Fulani herdsmen must be reined in as a matter of national urgency
For several years, scores of Nigerians have been brutally murdered by a group of people referred to as Fulani Herdsmen. Most of the murdered victims have been farmers; poor, helpless rural farmers tilling the soil to survive. Those who escape to tell their stories, have sordid tales of horror to tell. Their victims haven’t all been poor, helpless farmers, as affluent Nigerians who are investing in agriculture are also finding them to be a huge stumbling block to progress.
The long list includes Olu Falae, a former secretary to the military government, who was also a minister of finance. Falae, a two-time former presidential aspirant, was not spared by the daring, violent Fulani Herdsmen who after invading his farm, took him as a bonus for ransom payment.
This group of people whom the presidency insists is a “criminal gang”, and not terrorists, seem to derive pleasure in plundering the labour of millions of hardworking farmers across the country. Crop production accounts for about 90 percent of agricultural output in the country’s GDP composition, and it is pertinent to also point out, that the country’s food production has been grossly inadequate. The country has a deficit in virtually every crop which is produced, and this has contributed to the high import bill of $5 billion.
The country’s precarious food security status may however, not be unconnected with the possibility that, cows graze farmlands for free before the human population gets whatever is spared after the herdsmen and their cattle’s wreck havoc.
Today, rural farmers are no longer the primary victims of Fulani Herdsmen’s villainous acts. The new, growing population of ‘corporate farmers’, attracted into Agribusiness as the emphasis on it increases, are as well now having horrific accounts to give all too soon.
It is befuddling how it appears normal for a group of people to threaten the right to life and livelihood of others, without repercussions or any chance of it. What manner of terrorism could be greater than killing people, destroying farms (and investments), and creating fear?
For a country that has been talking much about boosting agricultural productivity, it amounts to hypocrisy when the government is either incapable or unwilling to take care of existential threats to the sector.
The Niger Delta Avengers came out to announce possible resumption of hostilities, and the government has since been restless. Yet, it continues to say focus will no longer be on oil, whereas agriculture which it is supposedly giving attention is struggling to exist courtesy of blood thirsty herdsmen.
We want the government to be decisive in dealing with the menace of these violent Fulani Herdsmen who have no regard for the sanctity of life or economic activity.
Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Ekiti are among states that have enacted anti-grazing laws as it appears the Federal Government cannot be bothered about the menace of these heavily armed and violent herdsmen. The Federal Government has so far failed to assertively denounce these criminal elements that have arrogated to themselves, the right to bear arms and cause terror.
While it is said that to these herdsmen, cattle is valued more than the lives and livelihoods of people in an entire village settlement, we disagree completely. No amount of cattle can, and should be worth more than the life of any Nigerian, and it is time the Buhari led administration shares this position.
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