WEDNESDAY Column by Israel A. Ebije
firstname.lastname@example.org | or @ebijeisrael.com
The resolve by stakeholders to resolve the Fulani Herders imbroglio is a panacea to end the increasing deaths experienced in parts of the country. Applying the best strategy under the present circumstance where all the sides of the feuding divide is nursing wounds and steaming hot to deliver vengeance must be thought out brilliantly. That is why the resolve of the Kogi state governor to use the state as a pilot example is seen by many as a very hasty decision, more like a kneel jerk spasmodic twitch solution to the highly volatile issue. A stakeholder meeting is supposed to have been convened to examine the dynamics, sample the temperature of everybody involved before reaching a landmark resolve.
The need to eschew politics on the evolving Fulani, famers imbroglio cannot be overemphasized. Already the cauldron is simmering especially for those who have witnessed mindless killings in Agbada/Agojeju, Egbeje, Edede, Oganenugu, Ojaata, Ojuwo Anawo between 2015 to 2017 in Igala land alone. The Igala people for good reasons based on empirical statistics of attacks are not only skeptical but inclined to distance themselves from the planned cattle colonies. Surprising that those agitating for peace cannot agree with the cattle colonies? Yes, no one not even the government can guarantee peace after lands are seceded for grazing. Looking at the rate at which so many innocent lives have gone, no one knows what the herders want.
Some narratives in defense of government decision to sponsor cattle colonies declare herding is a commercial venture like import and export business. They claim government take over lands to build refineries, drill oil, build seaports, construct roads for “farmers”, adding that building cattle colonies is the business of government. The problem I feel is underlining these back and fort arguments is not with who builds the colonies or whether or not the colonies are going to be permanently owned by the Fulinis but the issue of peace. Cows will stray, tempers will flay and the flame of violence will burn with furry at different colonies intermittently. With the developing story on terrorists infiltrating the ranks of herders, how safe is the safety nets the colonies are meant to provide communities? Nigerians may recall that security concerns are often relayed to operatives who never come to the rescue until lives are lost. The recent Benue experience is instructive.
Politics, religion, full scale crime has berthed in the escalating violence between herders and farmers. Human lives have become so worthless people mix politics and religion when criminals hold sway right under the stare of security operatives. With counter narratives, bootlicking to serve emotional interests, the truth is hidden, mediocrity is celebrated. Herders and farmers have lost their lives and the innocent ones are the major point of interest. Some people have however schooled themselves properly in whittling the Benue carnage by presenting a counter, claiming casualty is on both side. We are however waiting for graphic details of killings we all missed on the side of herders. Too much sick politics, religion on this hideous farmer, herders affair. For those who tacitly justify the killings by herders by alleging they are protecting their commerce, how will they view the Indians who worship cows, yet seldom kill anybody for it. Can the solution to the herders, farmers fracas be the oceans of innocent bloods spilled everyday?
Some people describe the herders as small scale business people about to be forced into ranching, which is too expensive to manage. This same people have quickly forgotten the amount and AK47 wielded by some of the herders worth. Any strategy designed to end the melee between farmers and herders cannot be properly implemented once they are expected to commune together in whatever guise. The potentials of explosive confrontations are more likely now than any other time.
The ranting continues. On one divide it is believed the Fulanis are only seeking conquest. On the other side, the JNI alleges CAN is using the conflict to “destabilize” Nigeria. In other level of discussions, some people believe government is silent because president Buhari is a Fulani man. The argument rages, while innocent blood is spilled on daily bases. Almost all the proposed solutions are politically based.