Who are Fulani herdsmen?
Bala: What is this big noise and cry over herdsmen?
Ankpa: Have you been sleeping Bala? Don’t you know the terrorists, the bloody murderers, masquerading as herdsmen?
Bala: How can cattle-rearers be killers? Their business is cattle-rearing, not killing people.
Ankpa: That’s what we thought until we found some going about with AK 47 guns!
Bala: Are you sure the Boko Haram scoundrels, those anti-Islam elements have not infiltrated the herdsmen group?
Ankpa: that is left for the State to fish out.
Bala: that should not be difficult, looking at the composition of the National Security Committee of the country. They are all from the North and should be familiar with the problem.
Ankpa: Isn’t that part of the problem? The fact they all come from Hausa-Fulani? Would they raise their hands against people already given cover by the powerful traditional rulers in the north?
Bala: That is not correct. No traditional ruler in the north who is a true Muslim will cover evil or shield evil doers!
Ankpa: If you say do!
Bala: Yes. Any herdsman who kills a human being should be brought before the law!
Ankpa: Sadly, that has not been the case. In the world we live in they have been leaving blood, tears and mourning in communities across the land.
Bala: Are they the ones actually killing people?
Ankpa: Who else? Once there is a disagreement over grazing, or once a State passes laws to regulate grazing, murder follows? Since 2010 over 1000 people have been killed in Benue alone. I’m not counting the ones in Abraka in Delta State or Enugu!
Bala: Then they shouldn’t pass anti-grazing laws! The herdsmen have a right to graze in the homeland!
Ankpa: But States Houses of Assembly do have the right to pass legislation and regulate life in their domain.
Bala: By stopping innocent herdsmen from feeding their cattle?
Ankpa: What’s your point? Is it proper for herdsmen to enter your farmland with their cattle and destroy crops in the name of grazing? When I raise my pigs do I destroy anybody’s land?
Bala: Look here, those cows are the mainstay of the herdsmen.
Ankpa: So? Is that why a Federal Legislator said that the cattle are more important than life?
Bala: She didn’t say so. She said the cattle are more important than the lives of the herdsmen and that’s how God made them!
Ankpa: Ah! God did not make anybody that way! How can cattle be more important than the man who owns them? It’s a socio-cultural construct!
Bala: Be blowing big grammar there! The herdsmen are not the owners. The owners are big businessmen who hire the herdsmen to maintain the cattle
Ankpa: Isn’t that the problem? Big businessmen! In business, you invest. I suppose the big businessmen could buy ranches and buy feeds to nurture their cattle.
Bala: That would bloody expensive- buying feeds for cows. Cows have to graze!
Ankpa: Yes, they must graze; but let them graze on the land purchased or acquired for that purpose.
Bala: Isn’t that what the herdsmen are asking for? Land!
Ankpa: They are not asking for land; they are seizing the land. They want land for free. The Number One Citizen says we should all accommodate them. He actually said this to leaders of Benue State whose kith and kin had been slaughtered the previous week.
Bala: Well, he had to make the point. We are in a federation and we should learn to live together.
Ankpa: Yes, we must live together. But if you want your cattle to graze in my land, you should approach me and do it in such a manner as not to destroy my property.
Bala: Destruction is an accident; not deliberate.
Ankpa: But if we agree and I give you for a fee where your cattle can graze there would be fewer accidents.
Bala: But ant-grazing laws have put a stop to that!
Ankpa: Did you see the video in which a yeye ram-head professor was arguing that Benue State belongs to the Fulani by conquest?
Bala: That was fake video, fake news; no professor from the north can say such a preposterous thing in the 21st century. It is highly provocative.
Ankpa: Highly provocative! But there has been no rebuttal!
Bala: We shall see to that!
Ankpa: What about the statement credited to one of the leaders of the Miyetti Allah group in which he said that the seventy-four killed in Benue State was retaliation over the 800 cows stolen by rustlers? Such a man should be in detention now!
Bala: He is not the killer; he simply stated a fact.
Ankpa: That means he knows the killers. Why should he not be in the cooler now? Telling the police all he knows
Bala: There will be reactions from his men!
Ankpa: Are you kidding me? Are there sacred cows? Is the State afraid of his men?
Bala: The State is afraid of nobody. If they were El ZakZaky would not be in detention. The President wasted no time in curtailing him.
Ankpa: Yes the State did well in arresting him. But the State has not done well refusing to grant him bail after the courts have
ruled that he should be bailed.
Bala: That’s not my concern now. I am deeply worried by the tension caused by the herdsmen matter.
Ankpa: You see, the people of Benue were deeply pained when the Federal Government showed apathy to their plight. No attempt to stop the killings. No representation at the mass funeral.
Bala: I am sure a Federal Government delegation would have been booed and attacked! The government had to act with caution! Besides, how many funerals can the Federal Government attend?
Ankpa: Then they should prevent these slaughtering in southern Kaduna and Benue.
Bala: But the Inspector General visited!
Ankpa: After declaring that it was a clash between communities! He gave an answer before the investigation. That’s why I love the response which Benue leaders gave him.
Bala: What kind of response?
Ankpa: They made him realize the undue haste with which he made the pronouncement and let him know that they are aware of how he became Inspector General after so many senior officers were retired to create space for him.
Bala: That’s another matter. I’m really worried faa!
Ankpa: Deeply worried too.
Bala: But the cattle have to graze. They businessmen must survive.
Ankpa: There are more cows slaughtered in two States in America than the whole of Nigeria. But do you see cows roaming the streets of London or even in the countryside?
Bala: Their society is different from ours.
Ankpa: How? They grow cattle, healthy cattle in the countryside. Have you seen the average cow in Britain or Brazil or America? They look like heavy-duty trucks. Nobody drags them round the towns or villages eating grass wherever they find green! It’s only in our country that we can find cows struggling for space with human beings and cars on the streets of the capital city!
Bala: It’s ok. We shall continue this conversation next week. I have to catch a flight at noon. I’m running late.
Ankpa: Ok. Let’s jaw jaw instead of war war!
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