Nura Alkali writes
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association has held a press conference to insist that open grazing must continue. They claim that Nigeria’s climate can’t sustain cattle ranching, which have failed in pilot programs in Adamawa and Plateau states. They then vowed to resist those states such as Ekiti, Benue and Taraba which made laws to ban open grazing.
In other words, we shall witness more communal conflicts with cattle herders in the Northcentral states. More banditry and mayhem by cattle-rustlers in Zamfara and Birnin-Gwari axis. More armed robbery and kidnappings on the Abuja-Kaduna highway. And more deaths, more injuries, more economic losses. Add to that the ethnic tensions and threats to national security, and you are looking at a catastrophe.
We can’t deny that cattle-rustling, robbery and kidnappings in the North outside the Northeast is now a Fulani affair. Confirmed news reports in the past two years suggest that 70-80% of criminals committing these atrocities are Fulanis, almost all of whom have been herdsmen who abandoned the family trade. But for lack of a better description, they remain “herdsmen” to other Nigerians.
So, Miyetti are protecting whose interests? Certainly not Fulani interests. Ibrahim Umar, the suspect in fake army camouflage here, first from right, is a self-confessed leader of a kidnap gang who killed 10 of his highway victims. If he was a graduate with a good job like many of us, I doubt he would be so criminally-minded. But how do you educate a nomad who drifts to Oturkpo in April, and is in Numan or Ningi by November?
Miyetti vows to defy state laws recognized by the Nigerian Constitution. If Fulanis lose lives – like in Numan recently – what have they achieved? How far did they lobby for public programs to assist ranching? They claim that grazing a “large volume of cows” on small lands is not possible. A big lie, since even desert countries run ranches on small lands. But if true, which Fulani came to this world to die in conflicts over grazing land?
That raises questions for Mr. President. If you – a Fulani who owns a cattle ranch and knows its benefits – would persist in your total indifference, who do you think should solve the problem?
Una good night Oh!