it is worrisome that cattle rearing, which is a personal business, should be a source of friction in Nigeria. In countries that produce most cattle in the world, such wars and killings are absent. But in Nigeria, whose production of cattle is insignificant to the global pool, such private business activity has become a bloody burden on other Nigerians. The nomadic herdsmen in the country behave like an army of occupation. They can kill and go and no qualms. And gradually, the Fulani herdsmen, who used to follow their cattle from the North down to the South for mainly grazing purposes, are now marching aggressively from the North-Central geopolitical zone to the Southern Nigeria leaving in their wake much blood, tears and sorrow. Armed to the teeth with AK47 military assault rifles, they are marching on unmolested and unchecked by Nigerian security agencies.
Their murderous incursion to other parts of Nigeria, especially in the North-Central and Southern Nigeria predates President Buhari’s administration but the intensity of their murderous campaign has increased since Buhari’s presidency. And the official silence and inaction that had trailed most of their murderous attacks appeared to have added more impetus to their barbarism and brigandage. There is no doubt that the Federal Government has not adequately responded to such willful murder and violence. The government has not confronted the herdsmen. It appears the government is treating them with kid gloves. After repeatedly decimating the Agatu people in Benue State and nothing seemed to have happened to them, they have become more emboldened to carry on with their murderous impunity on other Nigerians as if their lives no longer matter in this country.
They have visited their anger on Oyo, Ogun and Ondo states in the South-West killed and maimed their victims. Apart from killing innocent people, they also rape women and kidnap others for ransom. They have extended such barbarism to Delta State, where they kidnapped and butchered a monarch. Yet, nothing happened to them. None of the perpetrators has been apprehended or charged to court for murder. Now, their latest victims are the people of Ukpabi Nimbo in Uzouwani local government area of Enugu State, where they gunned down with their sophisticated weapons of war about twenty people, left scores of people wounded, razed down a Catholic Church and other buildings.
The worrisome dimension to the Enugu killings is the report that the security agencies did not respond to distress calls by the victims of the Fulani herdsmen’s aggression. And if the security agencies had responded at all, it was damn too late when the harm had been done. That has been the usual style and pattern in most of these pre-mediated killings of innocent Nigerians by the herdsmen. It is sad that the security agents have not been able to nip in the bud the Fulani herdsmen’s attacks despite prior information that such attacks are imminent.
Although President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly ordered the security agencies to arrest those behind the attacks and protect the victims of such attacks, such words should be matched with concrete action, otherwise they become impotent. Any official pronouncement not backed by action, as has been the case in the country, will not solve any problem. Except the perpetrators of the Enugu killings are readily arrested and prosecuted for their murderous action, the cycle of unconscionable violence and deaths will continue unabated in the country.
And if it continues unchecked, the victims of such brigandage may decide to resort to self-help in the absence of official protection by government, whose primary responsibility is to protect lives and property. Nigeria will know no peace if victims of such brutality embarks on revenge. The Fulani herdsmen by their unprovoked attacks on other Nigerians are waging a war against the Nigerian state. They should be treated as enemies of the state. They should be branded terrorists. Their action and those of the terrorists are seemingly the same.
Government should stop treating them with levity. It is high time the government confronted them headlong. There should be balance of terror. This is not the time for empty talks and promises, it is time for action. The herdsmen rampage is no longer a matter that the government should gloss over. Government should act immediately to arrest the ticking time bomb before it is too late. Their unrestrained aggression can undermine Nigeria’s unity and sovereignty. Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder. It can implode any time if nothing is done urgently to check the menace of Fulani herdsmen. I hope our politicians sitting comfortably in Abuja are reading the hand writing on the wall. They should act now to save the country from anarchy and avoidable bloodshed by apprehending the murderous herdsmen now and bring them to justice for killing other Nigerians.
The cattle that is the source of this frequent friction and wars between the herdsmen and their host communities must henceforth be put in ranches. The nomadic rearing of cattle, which the Fulani herdsmen still practice, belongs to ancient times. Nigeria should move on with modern trends in animal husbandry. The building of cattle ranches is the modern and best way of rearing cattle. Countries that produce most cattle in the world do so in ranches. Nigerian cattle farmers can take useful lessons on cattle breeding from their counterparts in China, India and Australia, some of the leading producers of cattle in the world.
Those still toying with the cattle grazing bill said to be at the National Assembly want to set this country ablaze with such insensitive legislation. Although the Senate has denied the existence of such crazy bill, there are reports that the bill is alive in the House of Representatives. Let the lower House leadership throw that obnoxious bill to the trash can where it rightly belongs. Nigerian lawmakers should do things that will ensure good life for all Nigerians, they should not add to our frustrations, which are numerous.
Beyond the herdsmen menace, the government should not think that all is well with Nigeria now simply because we are in “change” dispensation. Nigeria is more divided now than ever before. Nigerians are suffering now more than before. All our past problems, which have been deliberated upon and solutions proffered, are yet to be resolved. That is the major crisis of our nationhood. Except the foundational issues are resolved, it is not yet uhuru for the country. The Fulani herdsmen menace is just onemanifestation of our unresolved crisis of nationhood.