By Racheal Bado, Abuja
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently tackle the artrocities of fulani herdsmen to save the country from drifting into anarchy and disintegration.
In his letter to president Buhari February 8, 2021, Governor Ortom who recalled his earlier correspondences to him on the subject matter, lamented that his failure to deal with the issue decisively, has emboldened the killer herdsmen to wreck more havoc on the nation.The letter tiltled “Appeal to Act Before Herdsmen Drag Nigeria into a Civil War”, Ortom noted that the nation’s security challenges “have now emboldened assailants and armed herdsmen daringly enforce their will on legitimate owners and occupants of ancestral lands.”
He observed that the actions and inactions of the president has reinforced the perception that his administration is not fair and just to all Nigerians.
Besides, Governor Ortom posited that the Open Visa policy of the Buhari administration has promoted unprecedented influx of Fulani herdsmen carrying sophisticated and prohibited weapons into the country.
Regardless, Ortom commended the the president for the appointments given to Benue sons and daughters and for responding to his appeal to deploy, bupgrade and retain military operations in the state.
The letter called on the president to take the following actions:
” The Federal Government should develop a National Ranching Policy in line with global best practice in animal husbandry.
Today, open grazing is extinct in most countries of the world. In Europe, America, Asia and in many countries in Africa, pastoralism has long given way to ranching.
How can Nigeria then still be battling with a problem of pastoralism that in other countries has been solved over a century ago? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), India has 303 million cattle, Brazil, 226 million, China, 100 million, USA, 93 million, Argentina, 53 million and Australia 27 million.
All these countries ranch their animals. Nigeria has less than 20 million cattle which could also be easily ranched. Unfortunately, the cows are allowed to either roam the streets freely or encroach on people’s farms and other investments. A Ranching policy in Nigeria will provide avenue for both crop farmers and those involved in animal husbandry to increase production using modern technology. This is the only way out of ending farmers/herders conflict;
“Direct the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies to enforce Prohibition of Open Grazing Laws passed by various States of the federation;
” Abolish Open Visa policy and direct relevant security agencies to ensure full compliance with the ECOWAS Protocol on Transhumance.
” The Federal Government should immediately pay compensation to families killed and those whose properties were destroyed by the herdsmen in various communities across the country
“Condemn the atrocities perpetrated by armed herdsmen; arrest and prosecute the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and other Fulani Socio-cultural groups who have consistently admitted to the wanton killings and destruction of communities across the country. These include Husaini Yusuf Bosso (National Vice President of Miyetti Allah Cattle Herders Association), Badu Salisu Ahmadu and Umar Amir Shehu, (President and Secretary of Fulani Nationality Movement), Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bodejo and Engr. Saleh Alhassan (President and Secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore) along with their sponsors.
Proscribe Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Fulani Nationality Movement, Fulani Herders Association and other violent Fulani extremist groups, as was done in the case of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), given that the Global Terrorism Index ranks Fulani militia as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world; LicenseLaw-abidingNigerianstocarryweaponsinself-defence;” Ensure justice, fairness and equity in all issues relating to public safety and security and to support the resettlement and rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons as a result of herdsmen atrocities in all States of the country.
The letter reads in part: Mr. President, this call for justice is the heart cry of every patriotic Nigerian. It is not a call against the Fulani race or any other ethnic group, but a call to make Nigeria work for every Nigerian in line with the Oath of Office we took as leaders and your pledge to be a President for all Nigerians and to be for everybody and for nobody. Unfortunately, you seem to be tilting towards the Fulani at the expense of other nationalists.
Many citizens including patriotic Fulanis like Dr. Nura Alkali are alarmed at this tilt and the boast of Miyetti Allah that Nigeria is the heritage of the Fulani of the whole world. These citizens continue to condemn the atrocities of the Fulani across the country while also calling on the Federal Government to end these atrocities by withdrawing from their one-sided sympathy for herdsmen.
Only recently, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, added his voice in this regard. He acknowledged that seven or eight out of every 10 kidnappers arrested in Nigeria are Fulani. This is not a good testimony. More so, the consequences this image has cast on the Fulani tribe should be corrected now.
It is important to point out that these are not sentiments directed against Fulanis who are indigenous to Nigeria and have been living at peace with other Nigerians.
Testimonies abound in that regard. For example, my wife and I were accommodated by a Fulani man while in school at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Till date, we are still very good family friends and he visits me occasionally in Benue. This point underscores the pain we all have had to go through to understand the tragedy where armed herdsmen from Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and other neighbouring countries are pushing the whole country to the precipice. While addressing the Nigerian community on Tuesday 19th April 2019 in Dubai, You also blamed these foreign herdsmen for the attacks on Nigeria.
“In conclusion, Your Excellency, I am writing to you as a patriot who is concerned about your reputation and the fate of our dear country. I am imploring you once again to rise to the challenges of these times to avert the country’s drift to anarchy and disintegration, a situation that sycophants and praise-singers might be unwittingly shielding from you.
In 2015, Nigerians enthusiastically welcomed your return as a leader with a reputation for uprightness, fair-mindedness and integrity.
The current situation is raising doubts in the minds of many Nigerians who had believed in you. Mr. President, your compatriots are looking up to you to act fast to redress the situation.