Herdsmen and the unfinished matter
Sir: It is no use jumping into conclusion without looking back on our past and present. The North and South have been together since amalgamation by Lord Luggard in 1914 through independence era. There has always been Fulani, the herdsmen, grazing around the length and breadth of Nigeria, even when our economy was predominantly based on agriculture. Then, we had the groundnut pyramid in the North and cocoa in the southwest, fisheries and some form of agriculture in the south.
Then, there was no problem of herdsmen grazing on people’s farm, destroying their means of livelihood. What then could be responsible for the present state of chaos? Can we now conclude that the herdsmen, “the Fulani” suddenly became wicked to other tribes or can we say that desertification had encroached so much that the so called herdsmen are now being forced southward to destroy farms?
The “herdsmen” now move around, including the under-aged among them, fully armed with AK 47 and other dangerous weapons under the watchful eyes of our law enforcement agents. Is it lawful now to carry firearms without proper licensing, including the minors among the herdsmen? Has the law exonerated the herdsmen from illegal firearm possession? Confidently the herdsmen now invade nooks and crannies of Nigeria destroying property and maiming unarmed people particularly in the rural areas.
All state governors are advised, not just the Eastern states, against handling the situation with levity. It is a very serious challenge that the security forces should be prepared to tackle without delay. It may be Boko Haram’s new tactics to continue unleashing terror on unsuspecting farmers. In other words, the Boko Haram intelligence is at work pretending to be “herdsmen”. President Buhari must not handle the problem lightly so that it does not escalate to ethnic war. Before, the cattle herding involves just few persons, sometimes teenagers. Now, they unleash such havoc without hindrance. Herdsmen indeed!
We need both the original herdsmen and farmers to co-exist. We should encourage farming now than ever before. A continued invasion of farms can be suicidal for all parties. Let the security operatives do more to disarm the herdsmen before the situation degenerates further.
Also, the land must be gainfully utilised for farming and industrialisation.