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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
Civic Rights …

HUMAN LIVES OR CATTLE LIVES?

SINCE THE START OF THE YEAR, Nigerians have been served bloody reminders that Boko Haram is no longer the country's biggest internal security threat. States in Nigeria's middle belt have been rocked by attacks from suspected Fulani herdsmen in a new wave of violence which primarily stems from disputes over grazing areas for cattle. Attacks in villages in Benue state since the start of January have left 73 people dead and more dead bodies are still being discovered. With communities razed and buildings destroyed, about 40,000 people have been displaced by the attacks.  It is like violence is 'reaching a boiling point of total anarchy'. 

For how long will Nigerians continue to wait for the government to check mate the incidence of Fulani herdsmen who continue to kill and waste the lives of innocent and defenseless human beings in Nigeria.  For how long will Nigerians continue to die prematurely because of the insensitivity of the government? The incessant attacks by Fulani herdsmen has been condemned by Nigerians who are demanding that President Muhammadu Buhari arrest and prosecute the herdsmen involved in the killings as well as pronounce the herdsmen as a terrorist group. Anytime there is a massacre of people in a state by Fulani herdsmen like it occurred last week in Benue State for the umpteenth time, there is an outcry by Nigerians for the Federal Government to take action. Most times, there is not even a verbal response from the Buhari government. Even when there is a verbal response, it is a plea for people to live together in peace or a promise to arrest the perpetrators. But nobody ever gets arrested.

The attacks on innocent farmers are planned. Warriors are mobilised from different states by the organisers. Before the attack, messages are sent out to their people to leave such concerned communities. The warriors come at night, carry out the attack and return to their different locations, waiting for the next "call to duty." There have also been reports that even when soldiers are in a community or close by during the attacks by Fulani herdsmen, they either leave or take no action to prevent the attacks.  In spite of his inauguration statement that he belongs to nobody but to all, President Muhammadu Buhari has shown through his words and actions that he does not see all Nigerians as equal. His body language and attitude to issues have shown that the way he treats issues concerning his kinsmen and people of his religion is different from the way he treats others. The more people complain about this divisive and unpresidential attitude to governance, the more he carries on with it unperturbed.

The constant attacks by Fulani herdsmen on farming communities are about to spell doom for Nigeria if not hastily checked. In recent past the Fulani herdsman was not seen as a dangerous being. With a dry stick hung across his shoulders, weather-beaten raft hat perched on the head and a not-too-concealed dagger stuck into the waist of his trousers, the Fulani herdsman is a common sight across Nigerian highways and in interior bushes and farmlands as he traverses villages, towns and states.  With hissing sounds with which he communicates with his herd, and with the use of the stick when necessary, the Fulani herdsman can be seen guiding his herd in search of greener pastures to graze on.  The Fulani herdsman can herd alone or in a pair.  That remains the image of the Fulani herdsman.  However, the impression of a harmless herdsman has since disappeared from the minds of most Nigerians following cases of clashes between these now mostly heavily armed herdsmen and members of the communities they take their herds to graze.

Nigerians are highly worried by the inability of the federal government to stop or in the alternative take drastic action against the increasing destruction of farmlands, raping of women, robbery, kidnapping as well as killing of innocent people by Fulani herdsmen and this has led to the accusation of the President of protecting the attackers. There is more to these attacks than meets the eye. The worry is that the herdsmen are now armed to the teeth with AK 47 rifles and you keep wondering what Fulani herdsmen will be doing with such sophisticated guns if they are not being sponsored by some well-placed people in the country.  It should be noted in Nigeria that grazing of cattle is a private business so also is farming on land a private business.  In the light of this it would be suicidal for any private business to infringe or cause damage to another private business.  In overseas countries, ranches are provided for cattle to graze.

I wish the government can answer these salient questions: Is cattle business government's business? How much is cattle business contributing to the nation's GDP?  Should men, women and children continue to lay down their lives for cattle?  How many cattle does a Fulani herdsman need to sell to purchase an AK47 riffle?  Does one need a 3 million naira equipment to protect a 100 thousand naira investment?  Which is more important, is it the lives of human beings or that of cattle? In a country where there are no natural disasters, should there be mass burials happening all the time?  Judging by the technicalities of these killings, can we not see that this is beyond Fulani herdsman initiative?

Several socio-cultural and militia groups in the southern part of the country had declared their readiness to confront the Fulani herdsmen. In the search for solutions to the menace, a state governor came up with a hilarious fangled twist on how to rout the herders without bayonets, bullets, cudgels and machetes while another governor held meeting with local hunters in the state.  Some have advised the introduction of a toxic drug, game line in rivers and streams which will kill the cows instantly when they drink water.

Nigerians need to pray fervently to God who is the creator of the universe to come to our aid. There is nothing impossible for God to do. I believe that two wrongs will certainly not make a right.  Hence, those in the corridor of power should use the power judiciously to safe guard the lives and properties of Nigerians. Not a few Nigerians had looked forward to the federal government extending his change mantra to the menace of Fulani herdsman. However, not much has been seen in the form of change in Nigeria generally, let alone a perceptible change in how these herdsmen go about their trade. Many Nigerians are waiting for the government especially at the centre to do something fast to bring about a final solution to this menace.

God save Nigeria!!!

 


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