By : Daniel Omaga

There is a deleterious cancer eating deep into our national fabric and

this is the herdsmen era. With the increasing campaign and advocacy

from community based organizations, civil societies and the media

against this menace, political leaders are yet to rise up to their

onus of finding a cure to this disease that is gradually becoming

endemic. One begins to wonder why up till now, ground breaking arrests

and prosecutions have not been made in this regard. If the silence of

leaders from the northern part of the country is anything to go by,

one may also be poised to believe that ethnic bigotry and politics are

the major impediments to curtailing this disease. To the awe of many

Nigerians, the Northern governors and traditional rulers of Northern

extraction, having painstakingly brainstormed at the summit held

recently in Kaduna collectively affirmed that the herdsmen mowing

innocent lives across the country are from Senegal and Mali.

Contrary to their position however, President Muhammadu Buhari had

asserted in May 2016 that these herdsmen are from Libya. It is indeed

becoming more interesting but worrisome how the blame game is being

played. Who knows the country that will be in the court next? Maybe

Somalia or Burkina Faso. These herdsmen indeed possess grade-A

diplomatic passports. Enough of where these herders are from. They

need to be tamed. Although the origin of the fulani people is highly

disputed according to literature, some things are fundamental; they

are a unique people, mostly migrants due to their nomadic nature and

are spread virtually across the African continent. A fulani man in

Nigeria, shares a link with another one in Chad, Niger etcetera. They

have great political and economic strength. They are their brothers’

keepers irrespective of their locations. The spread of Islam across

the continent is largely accredited to the fulanis, a feat they

achieved through Jihads and holy wars. They have conquered many

territories in sub-saharan Africa as evident in the struggles of Usman

Dan Fodiyo.
Recently in Agatu, a community that was mercilessly ravaged in 2016 by

herdsmen, a grand conspiracy thrived where portions of lands were

ceded to the herdsmen for grazing activities. When the people of Agatu

are yet to recover from the shock of the massacre, when their

community is yet to be rebuilt and compensations awarded for lives and

properties that were lost, their invaders were rather pacified for the

loss of cattle. To add salt to the injury, the deputy governor of

Benue State made another shocking revelation, while speaking to the

newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja, that arrangements were underway, to

provide more security for the herdsmen and their cattle during grazing

on Agatu lands. How irrational indeed has our leaders begun to think?

It is only in this part of the world that cows accrue more values than

humans. No wonder the federal ministry of Agriculture is embarking on

the importation of grasses worth billions of naira for their

consumption even when internally displaced persons are perpetually

being neglected and bombed in error. Our military men are been sent

abroad to learn the art of cattle rearing while our borders remain

porous for these blood sucking demons to migrate into and across the

In a swift comparison, crop farming to Nigerians in the middle-belt

and other parts of the country is like cattle rearing to a herdsman

elsewhere. So why would a herdsman graze on a farmland knowing too

well that the farmer’s crops will be destroyed? The cow is their

source of livelihood so is the crops to the farmer. The Nigerian

government is encouraging Nigerians to go into agriculture. A lofty

idea indeed but the big questions are; how can agriculture be properly

sustained when some persons are busy cultivating crops and the others

are deliberately destroying the produce? Even in an attempt to settle

scores and cows are killed by farmers, is it enough reason for

herdsmen to kill humans in retribution? Or is the only form of

agriculture been encouraged, cattle rearing? If the herdsmen are not

Nigerians but foreigners as claimed by some political and opinion

leaders, then is it not enough for the Nigerian government to protect

the lives and properties of her citizenry from these intruders? If

they are foreigners, why then is the government seeking to enact the

grazing bill to give them lands across the country to exploit? If they

are foreigners, why then do the government frown at citizens who speak

ill of them?
It is a known fact that most political and traditional leaders from

the North and even other parts of the country own large farms. They

engage in cattle rearing and this is often done by the herdsmen who

have now been tagged ‘foreigners’ while their children are busy

acquiring quality education in other developed countries. I think it

is high time we called a spade a spade. Enough of these lies, deceit

and blame game. The herdsmen uprising will plunge the nation into

crisis if not properly addressed. This carnage must stop. It is only

in Nigeria that foreigners are allowed to move freely with weapons to

protect cows while hapless citizens are left to their own fate for

security. The simple truth is there are elements in Nigeria especially

the so-called opinion leaders whose incorrigible mindset of tribal

bigotry would derail any inter-tribal harmony and pacification efforts

in a bid to stop the herdsmen unimaginative era. For most of our post

independence history, Nigerians have lived relatively peaceful with

each other including cattle breeders without recourse to tribal or

ethnic origins. What then has gone wrong? Today the simmering flame of

ethnic, religious and political bigotry has reached epic proportions

and unless our national leaders take bold actions to confront it now;

Nigeria might one day be engulfed in another civil war.

The government should set up an independent commission to address the

issue of recurring farmers/herdsmen clash. Agriculturalists who engage

in cattle rearing should establish private ranches solely for the

purpose of cattle grazing to avoid encroaching on farmlands. They

should emulate countries like Brazil who despite their involvement in

cattle rearing registers little or no farmers/herders clash. National

Identity cards should be made available for Nigerians and herders who

are foreigners should be sent parking from our territories. The

herdsmen era must be treated as a matter of great national urgency

before we reach a point of no return. Time calls for action and action

here and now.
Comrade Omaga E. Daniel is the Executive Director, Beyond Boundaries

Legacy Leadership Initiative.

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