Now that the statistics has been reeled out from all the contending sides on the Benue massacre triggered by un couched press statement by the General Secretary of the Christian Association and other Leaders of thought. It will be repetitive to restate the whole positions again.
I believe what needs to be heard about the whole saga must have said, internalised and digested by anyone who cares to follow the National disgrace ditched out to the public as an effort to provide solution to the senseless killings and destructions of properties going on unabated across the country.
If you belong to Fulani stock which incidentally I now found myself to be one according the new definition of who is a Hausa-Fulani.
I pity President Buhari a Fulani man from Daura, with whom we all stand accused for complicity in the massacre that took place in Benue.
If you are Northern Muslim whether or not a Fulani Man you have been labelled a Hausa-Fulani and must be seen as a murderous person.
If you are Northern Minority Christian regardless from which State you come from your are now branded as a Middle Belter. You are also seen as one of those being oppressed by the rampaging Hausa-Fulani Herdsmen supported by their kinsmen in power. This is the sad situations we found ourselves today.
The political elites, the religious bigots, the publicity seekers, the ill informed and the functionally educated groups, all have had their swipes at each other, bitterly calling one another names all in their efforts of show that they care for this country.
But in all these they fell short of offering any concrete solutions to the problems.
They only succeeded in utilizing the blame game in order to serve their open and hidden agenda.
Regardless of how they feel and how they want to define the situations here are some of the facts they wouldn’t want us to know.
The Fulani-Herdsmen, Farmer conflicts are not something that started today, it has been with us for generations. But was managed carefully and intelligently by successive governments from colonial period to date. Until recently when the political elites and the religious bigots for their parochial reasons allowed things to generate to this un fortunate level.
I grew up in small village in Yobe not far away from the plains of river Gongola and because of the opportunities offered by the river I know very early how this Natures gift became a source of conflict between the farmers who needed the plains for on season and off season farming.
The Fulani-Herdsmen also needed the pasture to graze their animals and water for them same purpose.
But because our grand parents new that both settlers and Fulani Herdsmen have a right to this natural gift and because both are citizen of this country, that because one is settled while other remains pastoral does make them less important or less Nigerian then the other. They worked out compromises and created windows for them to exist with less conflicts.
Secondly, the conflicts between the Herdsmen and Settled Famers increased phenomenally for a variety of reasons, the elites are know this and here are some reasons for lack of space.
1. The fragmentation of the society and the greed for accumulation of wealth has broken the communal bond that held the society together as a result of this we are no longer our brothers keepers;
2. Traditionally in most Northern states government created route path and grazing reserves for the pastoralist but over period time due urbanization and increased economic capacities of the farmers, the “ Burtolis” or path ways and grazing reserves that were neglected by states were taken over as farms;
3. If one knows the life pattern of the Fulani Herdsman, it revolves around the cattle. He moves around the country seeking for green pastures seasonally, any threat to this for him is the end of the world;
4. Owing to dwindling rainfall in most part of the North as a result of climate change, the drying up of most small streams, rivers earth dams and shrinking of the Lake Chad, combined with the insecurity and insurgency of Boko Haram in the North East sub region, disrupted pattern of movement of the Herdsmen to beyond the Niger, that is why we are experiencing increased clashes.
5. The mediation mechanism that was in place to handle conflicts between the Farmers and the Herdsmen that were hitherto managed by traditional rulers now taken over the states and local government is either non existent or lack the effectiveness, then it was under the traditional rulers who had developed a fraternal relationships with Herdsmen;
6. In consistent policies and lack of political will by the Northern Governors to tackle issues relating of the pastoralists exacerbated the conflict;
These are some the silent issues the political elites and their cohorts did not want us to know, rather the matter is made to look like a conflict between Islam and Christianity. The tribal bigots also cashed on this to further their political ambitions.
To emphasize the sensivity of the Herdsmen issue the former Governor General of Nigeria Sir, Frederick Lord Lugard gave his portrait of a Fulani Man thus;
“The Fulani people are ascetic, kind and generous BUT Never fight a war (hot or cold) with the Fulani because they have:-
1. No rules of engagement(they just hit again and again)
2. No POW’s (they don’t take prisoners)
3. No mercy (once they pick you out as the enemy)
4. No fighting fatigue (they are forever fit and prepared, due to their lifestyle)
5. No need for adequate provisions and permanent abode (they live on very little and sleep in the wilderness)
6. No end to hostilities (they fight to finish)
7. No ignorance of terrain and location ( their lifestyle makes everyone of them a human GPS )
8. No deterrence due to casualties (they are strategically distributed all over West and Central Africa, and highly mobile)
9. No need for tranquillity (they have no permanent settlements which need peace to thrive).”
10. No fear of consequences.
This position support what our grand parents told us when were young, never engage in fight with a Fulani Man they never forgive disputes even on social matters between families. are transmitted through generations and they take revenge even it take hundreds of years.
Any nation that does not learn from its history is bound to fail. Enough of this senseless and unfortunate loss of human lives and properties. This must not be allowed to continue those that feel they are benefitting from it must know that posterity will not on their side.
Governments at all must take the issue of the Farmer- Herdsmen seriously. The Northern Governors must use their umbrella organization to come with up with lasting solution to the problem.
Individual States enacting laws to deal with the situation is just scratching the surface of problem.
To holistically deal with the problems and have lasting solution we need to understand the history, character and lifestyle of the actors involved.
Any solution that does not deal with the real issues, would only remain a stop gap measure created to take care of the current situations waiting for the next cycle of violence to occu
Finally, I wish to commiserate with all the families that lost their loved ones in the regrettable killings and destruction properties.