For quite some days now, the killings that took place in Benue State carried out by the Fulani herdsmen has taken the centre stage in Nigeria. The media has been agog with the news and hardly will a day pass by without the massacre been mentioned. Many Nigerians are of the opinion that the Fulani people in general are all wicked.
They see them as a bunch of never-do-wells who derives pleasure in killing people at will without any form of respect for human life. For a very long time animals have always caused fights between humans. Those with domestic animals at home will do well by confessing to this. The Benue saga is just too barbaric and in order to forestall a reoccurrence this is the right time for the issue of grazing to be looked into once and for all if we do not want to witness another civil war in Nigeria. I commiserate with the people of Benue State and pray that the demise of their people will hoist the flag of peace between the Miyetti Allah Cattle Rearers and the entire people of Nigeria.
Let us even look at the makeup of the Fulani herdsmen as a group of people and try comparing them to ourselves. Mainly, they are nomadic farmers who specialises in the rearing of cows, rams, sheep, goats and local hens. They do not stay in one place as they have to journey from one end to another to find green edible plants for their flocks. Just like the biblical shepherd boy named David, they are rugged in nature as they have faced many dangers. Apart from God’s hand that was upon David, ruggedity was part of what made him to have the guts to confront Goliath. Most times, the herdsmen need to fight with wild animals to safeguard the lives of the animals under their care. Some of them are fetish in nature as they are of the mindset that bravery alone cannot do the job of securing their animals. They have to a mountainous task of dealing with reptiles especially the snake with charms that drives them many distance away before they get to where they are. They are stark illiterates without any formal education. They hardly take their bath except as they sojourn through the thick bushes they luckily come in contact with a large body of water before they remember washing off their stinking bodies for once. Their source of food at times is the direct sucking of milk from the cows breast. This is the Fulani herdsman wrecking havoc to people. You may do well now by placing yourself side by side with them.
Governor Yahaya Bello (GYB) of Kogi State is presently seen by many as a wicked governor who wants his people to be slain in the same way the people of Benue were. GYB had during the onslaught of the wicked killings in Benue State extended a hand of fellowship to the Fulani herdsmen to come down to Kogi State and continue their grazing activities and probably become citizens. Furthermore, these accusers of the governor sees him as one trying to fertilize his second term in office ambition by throwing his weight on the Fulani’s, a place President Muhammed Buhari (PMB) hails from. None of them was ready to give GYB the opportunity to explain how he intended to host the violent and dreaded Fulani herdsmen but rather they jumped at a negative conclusion that the young and vibrant governor was dancing to the rhythm of hospitality just to please PMB.
Nobody is saying here that GYB or any political office holder cannot falter in their leadership position. So long we are humans in flesh and blood mistakes will always abound. However, as far as this matter is concerned, I make bold to say that GYB was not in any way wrong but rather he was smart, intelligent and witty. He was a forecaster who saw the odds the game was going to take and quickly staked it with a higher amount. If you think I am lying, the recent development in the Fulani herdsmen issue shows that GYB is a prophet of a kind. The federal government stopped open grazing of flocks and at the moment state governments numbering up to sixteen have offered large hectares of land for the Fulani herdsmen to graze their animals and it is not going to be for free. I had expected those accusing GYB to have set an agenda for him as to how he will accommodate the dreaded visitors he is inviting to our shores rather than just settling down to vehemently paint him black.
On a more serious note, any right thinking governor like GYB will open his arms wide to embrace the Fulani nomads into his domain. Doing away with them using the anti-grazing bill without finding for them an enabling environment or long lasting solutions will surely create problems as have already witnessed in Benue State. GYB’s plan of inviting them means a proper plan will be on ground by the government of Kogi State and one of such plans will be geared towards increasing the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the State. I see GYB as one who will clear almost 500 hectares of land in any part of Kogi State targeting at least two million cows, fence it round with strong pillars and wires and same time use the military to serve as security. We all know how much attention the governor has given to security in the state and I wonder if he would toy with this one. On the vast last, GYB will simply create a good road network for easy transportation of both humans, animals and vehicular movements. An architect will be made to draw the master plan where the Fulani huts will be constructed in a modern way different from the type the build as nest. Each hut housing a herdsman and his family will pay fifty thousand naira per month or less a it will be decided by the state. This is after the rules and regulations must have been read to them in the language they understand and they accepting to be dealt with if they are found wanting. This wide ranch will be designed to have street lights, boreholes, vast green areas for the cows to graze on, a school built within the demarcated grazing zone for the herdsmen children to start schooling which will gradually help in changing their brutal approach towards their fellow human beings an life generally. A ready market will be put in place for them to buy their wares from. Since the grazing land is going to be the only one in the state, selling outlets will have to be built across the three senatorial zones of Kogi State where butchers or people who are interested in buying cow meat for occasions will book for the cows to be supplied on a weekly basis from the grazing zones.
Kogites, this is what GYB was looking at when he openly invited the herdsmen to come over to Kogi State. He was interested in increasing the revenue generation of the state through the herdsmen presence whose grazing activities will take a new dimension entirely from what it has been. Nobody looked at the cow dung that is presently used in generating electricity and also its effective use as manure in farming. The people murmuring did not see the employment opportunity attached to it but rather they concluded in their hearts that the Fulani herdsmen can never be tamed when some of them have tamed snakes in their houses for reasons best known to them. Sad enough, the quick to judge opposition quickly read different meanings to what the white lion had in mind. How will our leaders do well in office when we continue to kick against everything they say without us coming out to help set agenda for them on what they are to do and what not to do? I will be the last to believe that GYB plans to sell his people away to the Fulani herdsmen simply because of a second term he is vying for. He has a good intention for making this remark and the onus now lies on us all to pray for him to be able to carry out such instead of us saying things that are not against him. May God help GYB to succeed. Amen.
Written by Balogun Omeiza David (BOD) 08069740330.