When most people hear of violence and the wanton destruction of lives and property in the Northern part of Nigeria, they erroneously ascribe all the violence to the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram group currently ravaging the NorthEast.
In reality, there exists a deadlier group whose activities predates Boko Haram’s and appear sure to outlive it, as there’s hardly any concerted effort aimed at nipping their activities in the bud as it’s been done with Boko Haram with the declaration of a State Of Emergency in the NorthEast of Nigeria, even when their activities span several states of Nigeria though the Middle Belt, what is today known as the North-Central bears the most of their brunt.
They act with utmost impunity like they are backed by extant laws of the republic to carry out genocidal acts against their perceived enemies.
The Fulani Herdsmen are the only ethnic group that traverse the length and breath of Nigeria armed to the teeth with their weapons in full glare, and at all times, when you could be pulled aside, even spend a night in detention just for concealing a pen knife on your person.
They obviously are excused because they are nomadic pastoralists and may once in a while need to protect themselves from the elements and wild animals; unfortunately some of these people have now turned these weapons on none other than their hosts in most cases.
These nomads move with their families and cattle from the North to the South seeking greener pastures and water, then make the journey in the opposite direction according to climatic dictates.
The lack of a grazing corridor probably approved by government, means that most times their cattle are unleashed on the farms of their hosts sometimes unintentionally, but most times as recent incidences show, very much intended to fuel internecine strife and conflict.
The first time I visited the North, I observed that most people particularly warned me about the Fulani. How I should be careful in dealing with them, as any disagreement with them could be tantamount to having a suicidal wish or signing my death warrant.
I noticed however that wherever the herdsmen went with their cattle, they gained most of all they need for their subsistence from their environment, limiting as much as possible encounters with people of other cultures to the barest minimum, leaving nothing for the benefits of their hosts.
The best they appear to do in reducing their impact on their hosts and their land is passing on route the Trunk A tarred roads, as any deviation into farmland, even for the shortest amount of time can lead to losses that cannot be easily quantified in Naira and Kobo.
I will be alluding to falsehood however if I claim that no good or positive can be ascribed to the fulani especially as regards their hosts. The cheap milk (Fura) and cheese hawked by their females are quite tasteful, though for the first-timer a few days of stomach upset could follow a bowlful, but should remit once the individual’s immunity has become adequately bolstered, owing to the insanitary handling of the Fura from extraction from the Cows to storage and to retail.
The insensitivity of these Fulani herdsmen to the plight of their host by reason of their activities is in the main responsible for the ugly situation we find in most parts of the North, especially those not bedevilled by the Boko Haram menace.
As it is with the Boko Haram group, no one seems to be able to rein the Fulani Herdsmen in. One would’ve expected that the current visit of the Sultan of Sokoto to the Gbong Gwon of Jos would go a long way in dousing tensions between the Fulani and host communities in Jos and other towns, villages and cities in the North-Central, but it didn’t rather in a move that could be described as insubordinate (though, not like the Fulani herdsmen report to the Sultan), women and children were mercilessly massacred in Southern Kaduna by armed men suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, while several villages were sacked and burned with several loss of lives and limbs in Benue State, just days after this August visit by the Sultan.
There was interestingly not much sympathy therefore from most Nigerians when so called “Cattle Rustlers”, invaded Fulani homeland in Katsina state leaving several dead in their wake.
Interestingly in the “Kano Declaration” by Northern Elders, they claimed it was infact the Fulani herdsmen that were been targeted allover Northern Nigeria and by extension Nigeria, and their way of life threatened. No wonder the situation remains dire with no hope of a solution in the foreseeable future.
The situation as it appears to be seen by the fulani eyes, is an attempt to wipe out their culture and way of life, for which they seem to be using all means at their disposal to prevent from happening, even if and when it involves killing their hosts, totally neglecting the place for modification of a lifestyle that may not be adaptable to today’s civilization.
This is why suggestions such as “RANCHING” has been treated by the protagonists of Fulani herdsmen even in parliament as Anathema, even when it is in line with International best practices, angling rather for the provision of a nationwide GRAZING CORRIDOR which many people, especially of the host communities from which this corridor will be created seem not to agree with especially as many feel that the Fulani herdsmen cannot be trusted to abide by the terms and conditions that will guide the establishment of such.
The first thing to be done in tackling the incessant killings emanating from the kill-me-I-kill-you situating in North-Central Nigeria between the Fulani and their host tribes will be for the police and security agencies to rise to the occasion of their calling, by ensuring that these killings stop by acting in ways that make people not think they are complicit in those acts of brigandage.
Perpetrators must be arrested and for once be made to face the wrath of the law if impunity is to be stopped.
The Fulani herdsmen must realize for once that they do not have right to all lands in Nigeria (accidents have been recorded severally on roads just because cattle tried crossing roads), and must begin to consider Ranching as an alternative to what they want, seeing that it would also allow them settle at a location and their children able to go to school, so that those benefiting from the corruption in the name of “NOMADIC EDUCATION”, will find that avenue sealed forever.
If the Fulani herdsmen embrace reasonableness they will find much love amongst their neighbours and hosts and peace will reign, if they however insist on “All or Nothing”, then they will soon find that no one tribe has the monopoly of violence.
The time to talk is now, compromises shouldn’t be ruled out, if long lasting peace is to be achieved in Nigeria’s North Central and Nigeria by extension.
Not all that’s Culture is inherently right or good, Change is the Only Constant thing in life, and is indeed important for the Perpetration of a race or people.
READ ALSO: FULANI HERDSMEN AND THE SACRED COWS | http://madukovich.blogspot.com.ng/2016/04/still-on-menace-of-fulani-herdsmen.html?m=1