By Tony Obi
The Yoruba Initiative (TYI), a socio-cultural and non-political group in the South-West has raised the alarm on the menace constituted by suspected Fulani herdsmen on farmlands in the region and other parts of the country. It described the unceasing encroachment as a threat to the economy of the region and danger to the distressing national economy.
Its chairman, Media Committee, Mr. Folu Olamiti, Chairman Media Committee, said TYI “alluded to the most outcries and complaints from farmers in South West, Niger Delta, South Eastern states and recently from Catholic Bishops Conference Of Nigeria (CBCN) in Abuja on the havoc being wreaked by suspected Fulani herdsmen on farmlands.
“The group, against this background, called on the South-West governors to take the problem as a challenge by collaborating with the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), to immediately develop an action plan aimed at preventing further encroachment on farm lands.
“The Federal Government should urgently intervene by looking into the problems and dangers posed by the cows rampaging farmlands in the region and other parts of the federation. The problem if not curbed has the potency to cause commotions and disaffections among ethnic groups in the country.
“The grazing of cattle on farmlands in specific areas of the South-West by the herders is discouraging the business of farming, more so as farmers continued to count their losses each time cows maliciously devoured crops in their farms.
“Efforts by the Federal Government to diversify the economy with farming as a major anchor, are being defeated through the danger constituted by the rampage on arable lands by cows, thereby rendering them useless for viable farming ventures. If it continues it will worsen poverty and food scarcity in the country.
“The Federal Government should not concentrate attention on the northern part of the country alone on agric development, it should spread such opportunities evenly across the geo-political zones of the federation if Nigeria must truly emerge as a giant in agriculture, while earning foreign exchange to grow its economy.
“The affected state governors should urgently consider holding a special meeting with the President, northern governors and the umbrella association for Fulani herders to collectively fashion out ways to stop the rampage.
“The people of South-West have long been noted to be highly accommodating. They have been living peacefully with Fulani and other ethnic groups for ages until now that cows are being moved with impunity into farmlands, while herders show no concern to farm owners.
“We like to stress here that the impunity noted of the herders in destroying farmlands may have political undertone for now, but such will never serve even their interest in the long run in the event that Nigeria gets destabilised in line with plans by forces that may be remote-controlling the herders.
“Farmers in the South-West should be more security conscious and law abiding and report any breach of security around their farms to government of their respective states.”