– The Sun News

Re: Still on the Grazing Bill

THERE is rather discomforting narrative emerging from the current reign of terror being unleashed by suspected Fulani herdsmen on crop farmers and crop-farming communities all over the country, but more especially in the North Central, South East and South West geo-political zones. 

Rather than address the menace, we have been lured into giving this criminality an ethnic and religious coloration. With talk of an Islamisation agenda, we are gradually splitting into two camps – of Muslims and non-Muslims. And as soon as we become so divided, we soon lose track – and ultimately lose the fight against this emergent form of terrorism. We soon forget that not every Muslim in the mix of this madness is a herdsman – and that some Muslim crop farmers in the South West, for instance, may indeed have fallen victim of the marauding herdsmen. Or is anybody thinking that those, who embarked on the seeming reprisal attack in Nasarawa last weekend, were all non-Muslims? Soon too, other Muslims (especially in the core North), who could ordinarily assist with solutions to the menace, are lumped together with the assailants and forced to defend their faith. 

I think we should leave Islam out of this and address the mindless bloodletting and the curious, benumbing response of the Buhari government and its security agencies. For me, there appears to be some endorsement, on the part of the government, of whatever the marauders are doing. That is why, instead of seeking to bring them to book, government seems to be more concerned with placating and forcibly resettling the culprits in communities that are not too eager to have them. 

But before we go too far, I’d like to raise some posers, which I have distilled from the motley of calls I received last week in response to the Grazing Bill and grazing reserve misadventure: 

1. The landmass in the North of Nigeria is more than the landmass in the South. Most of the locally produced food we eat in Nigeria is grown in the North. How come, the land that produces so much food is too dry to produce grass? 

2. When did the same tsetse fly-infested forests of the South suddenly become a choice grazing spot for cattle; so much so that we’re now determined to site grazing reserves there? 

3. How fast can a herd of cattle and their herdsmen really run? So fast that they disappear from every community they attack before the police and other security operatives get there? How come no arrests (of the herdsmen) are being made? It’s either these killers actually have no cattle in the first place, or there is a collaboration that nobody wants to talk about. 

4. Northern Nigeria has always had laws regulating grazing corridors, how come none of the states had set up a reserve until now? Why sponsor a bill to forcefully establish the reserves in other parts of the country? 

5.The experience with compensation for oil blocs has given people a foretaste of the heartlessness of government takeover of people’s ancestral lands. As Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa would argue, do we take a moment to reflect on the fact that the oil blocs people boast of owning today are actually the ancestral lands of Niger Delta people, who have been sacked from such lands, with little or no compensation? Has it ever occurred to the proponents of this controversial bill that the reserves would end up taking up the only ancestral inheritance some people have to their name? 

6. And the cows; would they not be sold to the communities, hosting the grazing reserves? Is it not the business of a cow owner to, like other businesses, acquire land to warehouse his cows? Why does government need to grab land for him? What other businesses rely on government to grab land for people to do their private business? 

*Would indigenes of the host communities of the grazing reserves also be free to go take the herdsmen’s cows and pay the herdsmen whatever compensation they deem fit? 

Steve, your take in “STILL ON THE GRAZING BILL” is indisputable. 

Buhari’s body language, on the rampaging Fulani herdsmen who are killing Nigerians with relish and Buhari seemingly looking away from it, without even as much as giving a deceptive warning to the miscreants, could wrongly portray the president as someone out to disintegrate Nigeria through violence; against God’s will. God changes things through peaceful devices and not devilish ploys. The Biafran truce, signed by Gowon with the late Ojukwu, had a proviso that any part of the country, that has desire to quit Nigeria’s union, could do so at will. Spiritually, one can glean why God warned Buhari, through his tripartite losses at presidential elections, before 2015 that he “won”, to drop his ambition for civilian presidency. The signs are there that so far, all Nigerians are getting, is the negative side of their survival. May the will of Almighty God prevail. Amen.

*Lai Ashadele, 07067677806 

Don’t be surprised that you will see Boko Haram, or herdsmen, at your backyard tomorrow. They are agents, not herdsmen. They are on a mission. But the government kept mute. Those people boasted that nothing will happen, and nothing is happening. They’re in power.

*Ndu: 08033212172 

We depend on people like you and Amanze Obi, Tola Adeniyi, since leaders from the South and the so-called Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly cannot hold emergency meeting on national issues detrimental to their interests, as northerners would do.

*09099513241 

I’m one of your fans and read your articles today on the grazing bill! I was hoping that you provide a lot more insight into this extortion and rape called grazing! First, Steve, what law of this country confers the right on a businessman, called cattle rearer or Fulani herdsman, to force his cattle into my hard earned farm, feed his products on my farm/sweat, at gun point, and sell them to me at market value if I can afford to buy them?

Who owns the Ak47 they display? Who licensed it? There are more cattle farms in Iowa (United States of America) alone than all the cattle farms in Nigeria put together. How do the farmers there feed them? Same in Europe and Asia. Like in other civilised countries, can’t our cows survive on animal feeds? Can’t our industrial sector produce these feeds and sell to the cattle farmers? Can you imagine the number of cattle feed factories this can create in the country – the number of employment, income generation via taxes, etc? Won’t this tension disappear? The federal government can surely partner with the various states & local governments to make the land available at very little price, as a matter of national interest, national peace or whatever baptismal name they want to give it. The government is never short of names. It was the same thing they adduced when they wanted to take Gwari people’s land in Abuja, then turn around to allocate same to themselves sooner than later… I’m also beginning to see a different perspective to this whole garbage: These so-called Fulani herdsmen may also be Jihadists, terrorists or Boko Haram camouflaged at best! It’s so unusual for a normal human being to walk into another man’s farm, draw a gun and start wasting lives. The Ibo nation is so good in defending themselves and they proved this during the Biafran war with minimal ammunition. If this administration is honest, the executive needs to liaise with the lawmakers to categorise the activities of this so- called herdsmen, as act of terrorism and encourage the various communities to defend themselves, as they did in Borno and Maiduguri against Boko Haram incursions. William Shakespeare cautioned that “The man dies in him who keeps mute at the face of oppression”

*08033221662 

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