By Olusesan Laoye
For the past few years tensions have been high over the activities of the Fulani herders, who have been terrorizing indigenes on their farm lands and forcefully occupying their villages as well.
The incidents continued unabated and have led to the death of hundreds of persons in the hands of these herdsmen who operated with impunity.
With their operations and the utterances of those in authorities which often followed the herders brutal actions, against their victims and the arrogance with which the organisation in charge of the herdsmen especially, Maiyatti Allah kun behaves, it was believed that the government at the centre may have been behind their actions.
Since the activities of these herdsmen were rampant in the Southern parts of Nigeria and Middle Belt, the governments in those zones were forced to come together and enacted the anti-open grazing laws.
Although the Benue and Plateau States began the operation of the anti open grazing law, when killings of farmers in the area were rampant, the Southern governors who saw the dangerous trend with which the activities of the Fulani herders was going, with the killings, raping and kidnapping being perpetrated in their areas as well came together and took a firm decision at their first meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital tagged the “Asaba Southern Governors declaration” to put an end to the menace and brutality by the herds men in their respective areas.
Despite this, the President Muhammadu Buhari led government still believed that open grazing was the antidote to end the farmers herders clashes and forceful occupations of peoples’ farm land and homes.
Despite the resolved of the Southern State governors who have set September 21 deadline for the implementation of the anti open grazing laws in their respective states, President Buhari to the chagrin of Nigerians after coming back from the United kingdom for his medical treatment gave a shocking order for the review of the the old, outdated 368 grazing route across the 25 states.
This baffled the people and made Nigerians to react negatively, as this further created severe tension, suggesting that the president was drumming for war, since that law has been outdated and not visible and not in tune with the modern day Nigeria, where development has taking over the country.
According to Chief Ayo Adebanjo the leader of Afenifere, what has made Nigeria what it is today and why the agitations and crises are rampant is the fact that people in authorities are complacent about what they are supposed to do.
The activities of the Fulani herdsmen who have almost destroyed Nigeria’s economy, leaving thousands homeless, killed, maimed and still counting while the federal government is not living up to its responsibilities is a clear example that the government is biased and one sided.
But the decision of the Southern governors on open grazing gave hope to the people and just as they were done and ready to implement their laws and declare war on the herdsmen, not minding the review by the presidency of grazing routes, there was a u-turn by President Muhammadu Buhari who had been adamant on the matter.
President Buhari surprised Nigerians with his shocking statement days ago, when he bowed to the pressure on anti open grazing and by ordering that approval be given to ranching instead of movements of the herdsmen from place to place, which has been causing havoc over the years.
It was however like a nightmare to Nigerians when they woke up to hear President Buhari’s Media man Garba Shehu, ina volte face statement that his boss, has released 24billion for some states to proceed for ranching in their respective States.
According to him “So far about 24 billion has been disbursed to about four states for ranching activities. Yobe has been given, Ebonyi has been given and FCT has been given. Eight more states are now being processed for this payment,” Garba declared.
Garba further declared that the president has the interest of Nigeria at heart to live in love with one another, a statement which also came as a surprise to many Nigerians.
Since this news broke, people have reacted differently wondering why this solutions came now, after herdsmen have destroyed, killed, raped Nigerians to comma, before the president should act, while some say that it’s still good for Nigeria since the solutions have been found to stop the mindless attacks, killings on the unsuspecting Nigerians by the herdsmen.
It has also been said that the Southern governors’ resolution has brought solutions to the long lasting menace of herdsmen.
It was also believed that it was because the entire South have spoken with one voice, with the support of the masses, that made the president to eventually bowed to pressure, by providing lasting solutions to the ugly saga which could have brought Nigeria to an imminent war which the President himself would not be able to curtail.
Ranching method which is a process where cows and other wild animals are kept in a secure environment and are reared until they are mature for use was adopted in the old Western Region by the Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s government in all the farm settlements across the region.
This is also the common standard practiced all over the world and it was expressed by agriculture experts that if this method was adopted before now, the activities, tension, witnessed in Nigeria would have been avoided.
Although many Southern States have declared that they don’t have any land for the cows ranching, Ebonyi state governor, Dave Umahi, has indicated interest and have since collected N6 billion grant from the FG to commence ranching method, an act which was described as treachery by some commentators who believed that he should have waited for his colleagues to make a collective decision over.
It was also argued in some quarters that though the idea of the ranching sounds good, they were not sure of the intention of the federal government because the reversal of the grazing route policy was too sudden.
It was said that the government was just too clever and that the new policy was just part of the game plan of if this does not work that would work and that ranching has been in the drawing board as a final step towards establishing Fulani colonies in all parts of Nigeria.
It would be recalled that before the U-turn by President Buhari, many Nigerians had taken a stand and have also expressed their worries over spate of insecurity and acts of brazen murder and wanton destruction of property by the Fulani herdsmen.
The most vocal of them all has been the Governor of Benue State Samuel Ortom who has been tackling the federal government for not showing concern over the killings of his people by the Fulani herdsmen.
The recent of such attack has even landed the Channels Television a query from the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, which is believed as a ploy to gag the press.
Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal was one of the people that reacted to the pronouncement by the federal government regarding the review of the grazing routes across the country.Speaking on the development, the Sokoto state governor rejected the move questioning why grazing reserves should be set up in regions that did not need it.
According to the governor, “it was very unnecessary to take infrastructure to a region that did not request for it and I wondered why a cattle rearer from Sokoto in the north should pursue his cows to Delta state in the south.”
Speaking further, Tambuwal noted that it was time for the northern region to come face to face with the reality of the fact that the development of the grazing route was not helpful for the Fulani herdsmen themselves, their cows, and the communities they pass through.
Elder statesman, veteran columnist and former MD of the Daily Times of Nigeria, Akogun Tola Adeniyi, also noted that the insistence of President Muhammadu Buhari before now, on grazing reserves for Fulani herdsmen “is enough evidence that there is a plan to “Afghanistanize” Nigeria.”
Reacting to the development in a chat with BusinessHallmark, recently, Chief Adeniyi said the idea of grazing reserves is unacceptable and must be rejected by all Nigerians.
According to him, “the attempt is an unmitigated provocation of which relevant stakeholders in Nigeria should call Buhari to order before he plunges the country into deep crisis.”
“Apparently, Buhari cannot be alone in all of these. It’s either that he is not in charge or some people are hellbent to set the restive country ablaze,” he observed.
Also, former commissioner for information in Ebonyi State and spokesperson for Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) spokesperson, Chief Abia Onyike, condemned the attempt then by the government to impose grazing reserves for Fulani herdsmen on states, describing it as an ethnic agenda and ploy to take over Nigeria for the Fulani.
Onyike in a chat with BusinessHallmark recently too, noted that the insistence of President Buhari on creating grazing reserves for Fulani herdsmen carrying out attacks in various communities in Nigeria suggests that the government may be working in concert with the killers to overrun the country.