WHO SPEAKS FOR THE FU­LANI BOY?

Much more could be done to im­prove the lot of the Fu­lani boy who rears cat­tle, ar­gues Okezie Vic­tor Ik­peazu

THISDAY - - COMMENTARY -

Like ev­ery other Nige­rian, I am deeply ap­palled and gen­uinely con­cerned over the hor­rific and mer­ci­less blood­let­ting be­ing un­leashed on the cit­i­zenry by the Fu­lani herds­men. The truth is also ev­i­dent that Nige­ria’s se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture as presently con­sti­tuted is at their wits end or pre­tend­ing to be, over whose manda­tory re­spon­si­bil­ity it is to clin­i­cally nip the herds­men jig­saw in the bud.

In the light of these re­al­i­ties how­ever, my nar­ra­tive in this en­deav­our will seek to slightly dif­fer as I draw and zero in on what I con­sider a his­tor­i­cal ne­glect, which I am per­suaded to be­lieve has be­come the al­ba­tross of the herds­men men­ace.

The in­gre­di­ent of my sin­cere sub­mis­sion there­fore is an­chored on the dis­dain­ful and se­rial ne­glect of the Fu­lani boy by the na­tional gov­ern­ment and mul­ti­plic­ity of our Fu­lani na­tion­al­ity elites who as it were would have writ­ten their names in gold by ad­vo­cat­ing a change in the way and man­ner their no­mads tend to cat­tle. “Change they say is the only con­stant thing in life”. If prov­i­dence smiles on you, the ex­pec­ta­tion is that you will gen­er­ously pass it on to some mem­bers of the so­ci­ety you rep­re­sent.

As I script this piece, some of our Fu­lani broth­ers glo­be­trot­ting and be­strid­ing blue-chip com­pa­nies, will grate­fully re­call their fright­en­ing past which was bleak and fraught with hope­less­ness, un­til God turned the hand of the clock.

We de­light in the van­ity and fan­tasies of play­ing tin-god and Lord of the manor, while our grow­ing Fu­lani young ones are in­doc­tri­nated and rad­i­calised into be­liev­ing that their des­tinies and chances of mak­ing the much ex­pected dif­fer­ence is fore­closed. At best, they are con­scripted and charged to maim, kill and de­stroy per­ceived po­lit­i­cal and busi­ness en­e­mies. And by ex­ten­sion, host com­mu­ni­ties, whose farm­lands and source of liveli­hood they end up de­stroy­ing.

Is­lam we were told, is a re­li­gion of peace and it beats my imag­i­na­tion why these virtues are not be­ing in­cul­cated in this young and up­com­ing ad­her­ents. No argument or ex­pla­na­tion will ra­tio­nalise the vi­o­lent re­sponse of a herds­man and his col­lab­o­rat­ing tra­duc­ers to ev­ery as­sumed or estab­lished cat­tle theft in any host com­mu­nity rather than toe­ing the no­ble path of peace­ful set­tle­ment. Our en­light­ened Fu­lani broth­ers should there­fore soberly look in­wards, swal­low their pride and strate­gi­cally seek to jointly es­tab­lish how the in­ter­est of their herds­men broth­ers can be best pro­moted with­out hav­ing to keep con­sti­tut­ing a nui­sance here and there. In­deed, what­ever and how­ever the herds­men act, is usu­ally deemed to have dove­tailed from the dis­po­si­tions and in­sin­u­a­tions of their elite lead­ers. Their elite there­fore, have ur­gent need to change this de­cep­tion through a de­lib­er­ate and res­o­lute de­ter­mi­na­tion to end the cat­a­strophic ori­en­ta­tion of their herds­men kins. The so­phis­ti­cated arms and am­mu­ni­tions pos­sessed and de­ployed by the herds­men are cer­tainly pro­cured and availed to them by some per­sons above their in­tel­lec­tual back­ground and ca­pac­ity. My joy will know no bounds if pay masters of that rus­tic Fu­lani boy is pro­voked by this hon­est and sin­cere sub­mis­sion into ac­cept­ing his ob­vi­ous fail­ure for not do­ing enough to bet­ter the life of these Fu­lani boys rather than this de­spi­ca­ble de­light of us­ing them to make us the laugh­ing stock of the world com­mu­nity.

Let us be per­ti­nently mind­ful of the tru­ism that no­body has the mo­nop­oly of vi­o­lence and peo­ple will nat­u­rally re­act most times in di­men­sions and pro­por­tions with hor­rific con­se­quences when pushed to the wall, and si­lence they say, may not al­ways be cow­ardice.

Herds­men in ex­change for their cows also ac­cess foods cul­ti­vated and pro­duced in other parts of the coun­try. If at ev­ery slight­est

MY JOY WILL KNOW NO BOUNDS IF PAY MASTERS OF THAT RUS­TIC FU­LANI BOY IS PRO­VOKED BY THIS HON­EST AND SIN­CERE SUB­MIS­SION INTO AC­CEPT­ING HIS OB­VI­OUS FAIL­URE FOR NOT DO­ING ENOUGH TO BET­TER THE LIFE OF THESE FU­LANI BOYS RATHER THAN THIS DE­SPI­CA­BLE DE­LIGHT OF US­ING THEM TO MAKE US THE LAUGH­ING STOCK OF THE WORLD COM­MU­NITY

provo­ca­tion those con­sum­ing the cows are heart­lessly dec­i­mated, one won­ders who will be left to con­sume the cows.

The mid­dle belt states, largely held to be the ma­jor con­trib­u­tors to Nige­ria’s food pro­duc­tion needs, have be­come the most af­fected in the on­go­ing dis­re­gard for the sanc­tity of hu­man life. Re­call the iden­ti­fy­ing acro­nym of Benue State, as “the food bas­ket of the Na­tion”. It is ev­i­dently not for noth­ing given their rich­ness in agri­cul­tural prod­ucts which in­clude but not lim­ited to mass pro­duc­tion of yam, rice, beans, cas­sava, sweet potato, maize, soy­bean, sorghum, mil­let, sesame, co­coyam, etc.

My sci­ence ori­ented back­ground has taught me to know and rightly so too that their soils are gen­er­ally char­ac­terised by trop­i­cal fer­rug­i­nous types de­rived from crys­talline rocks with an ap­pre­cia­ble quan­tity of fer­ro­mag­ne­sium min­er­als.

The farm­ing cul­ti­va­tion and pro­duc­tion com­fort in this re­gard is that the area al­lows for par­tic­i­pa­tion in both the grain-based and the yam based economies deriv­able from the North­ern part of Benue and the yam cul­ti­va­tion based economies of the South. This ad­van­ta­geous eco­log­i­cal po­si­tion per­mits and fa­cil­i­tates year round farm­ing ac­tiv­ity, con­trary to the shift­ing cul­ti­va­tion which ob­tains in the South-East.

In­ter­est­ingly too, choice of farm­land in the Agrar­ian Tiv en­clave is de­ter­mined by prox­im­ity to the com­pound, the im­pli­ca­tion of which is that com­pounds are part and par­cel of the farms with pro­vi­sion for kitchen gar­dens where large pro­por­tion of the veg­eta­bles are grown. Con­se­quently there­fore, our Tiv broth­ers re­side in their farms, mak­ing any herders dis­lodge­ment colos­sally dis­as­trous.

Plateau State, which is cur­rently reel­ing from the heart­less mas­sacre of over 200 souls for un­sub­stan­ti­ated case of miss­ing 300 cows, is highly con­du­sive for the cul­ti­va­tion of va­ri­eties of fruits: toma­toes, veg­eta­bles, onions, sweet pota­toes and Irish pota­toes. Stud­ies have shown that Benue, Nasarawa and Ji­gawa are the largest pro­duc­ers of sesame. Down South, the Eastern­ers and their Western coun­ter­parts, are still adding taste and value to our eco­nomic well-be­ing, fol­low­ing from their con­stant cul­ti­va­tion and pro­duc­tion of palm oil, co­coa, cas­sava, yam, plan­tains, bananas and so on.

I sin­cerely em­pathise and share in the pres­i­dent’s de­sire for us to prof­fer a work­able and na­tion­ally ac­cepted recipe to the herds­men mal­ady. But first he may have to be­gin by show­ing enough com­mit­ment in terms of roundly con­demn­ing these mur­der­ous mon­sters with a view to win­ning the peo­ple’s con­fi­dence in his abil­ity and sin­cer­ity to re­store peace in the Nige­rian polity. The con­tra­dic­tory claim of say­ing that herds­men are Libyan mili­tias and in the same vein ad­vis­ing Nige­ri­ans to give up their an­ces­tral lands to for­eign­ers for ranches is too sus­pi­cious to be de­sired. I have to humbly ob­serve that some of the po­si­tions so far churned out were not well panel-beaten with a view to con­sci­en­tiously ac­com­mo­dat­ing all shades of opin­ions.

First was graz­ing re­serves and routes which are not any­thing dif­fer­ent from cat­tle colonies as lat­ter bandied. The mul­ti­plic­ity of angst and re­jec­tion which greeted the idea of cat­tle colonies and re­serves as ini­tially ad­vanced took us back to the draw­ing board.

Ac­qui­si­tion of lands for ranches as cur­rently be­ing con­sid­ered ul­ti­mately in­volves giv­ing up of lands. But the note of cau­tion is that the pe­cu­liar­i­ties of states in mat­ters con­cern­ing land must be se­ri­ously con­sid­ered and ac­corded its well-de­served pri­or­ity at­ten­tion in any peace-an­tic­i­pated pol­icy for­mu­la­tion for deal­ing with this mat­ter in our coun­try to­day.

Dr Ik­peazu is the Gov­er­nor of Abia State

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