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Published On: Wed, Jan 22nd, 2020

Solutions To Herdsmen Problem In Niger Delta Region

By Young Erhiurhobo
LAGOS JANUARY 22ND (URHOBOTODAY)-It’s widely believed especially among Sociologists that, once you know the causes of a problem, then it’s very much easy to profer solutions or solve such a problem. In fact, such a problem is already half way solved. This is why our elders say, “There is no problem without solution”.
The menace of Fulani herdsmen, terrorizing every part of the Niger Delta region is no longer news to thousands of Nigerians and even foreigners alike. Everyday, one or more deaths and other attrocities like raping of married women or young virgins, armed robbery attacks on highways and communities, destruction of farmlands and other abominable acts are usually recorded or associated with these Fulani herdsmen. Newspapers, radio and television are always awash and flooded with the reports of attrocities and unbearable havoc being pepertuated against these helpless Nigerians by these dare devil-incarnates of human beings.
Today, Uwheru Kingdom in Ughelli North LGA of Delta state is a seat of these Fulani herdsmen. They have turned the entire kingdom and its people into a ranch where they graze their cattle. The indigenes are now forcely made tenants and strangers in thieir God given land. Recently, more than two people were shot dead and several others injured at Agadama community in Uwheru Kingdom. It was in this same Uwheru Kingdom that Avwon, a community of great people was exterminated some years ago. Today, that community is a ghost of itself. This is just one of thousands of examples of communities around Niger Delta region that these Fulani herdsmen have ransacked over the years.
Therefore, in this short discourse, we shall look at some of the root causes of the activities of these Fulani herdsmen and at the end, profer solutions to the problem.
First and foremost, we must know that the entire Niger Delta is naturally endowed with grasslands and swamp forests. Because the whole region is loaded with fresh grasses like the elephant grass which is consumable and nutritious to ruminants, thier search light is always beamed on our communities. The above is the first reason why they are perpetually stationed in our lands. In the north, due to harsh weather and arid soil, these fresh and succulent grasses cannot survive and for the cattle rearing business to thrive, they must look for a way to feed thier cattle.
Secondly, it’s reported in the papers that some community leaders are partnering with these herdsmem. Let’s be realistic and truthful to ourselves, I heard time without numbers from victims of these terrorist attacks that some of their community leaders collect money and other inducements from these herdsmem and issued them licences to operate freely in the community . In such a situation, these Fulani herdsmen should not be blamed for our woes any more; having known that our woes and pains are orchestrated by our own leaders. It’s quite unfortunate! This however mean that our own leaders have sold our communities to evil people. But the most annoying part is that, the poor and peasant farmers that always bear the burden of every attack by these Fulani herdsmen, may not be aware of these shedding deals with thier leaders. However, at the long run, they are the ones that suffer the pains and agonies. Those leaders are the elites in the community and by their social status, will not any day take a cutlass or hoe to go to farm. On the other hand, such leaders have nothing to offer whenever there is any attack by these Fulani herdsmen on the poor people. They already know what has happened. Leaders selling followers for a morsel of bread. It’s a pathetic and irrevocable irony!
Thirdly, we must also know without being told that, all the herds of cattle grazing our farmlands are not only owned by the northerners as many people think. I want to let you know that some of our leaders and business men and women also owned chains of these cattle. Many of these cattle are owned by our people in the Niger Delta region here. They only employed the services of these Fulani herdsmen because they know how to run the business. The leaders are not just ordinary leaders but people who are highly connected to the government of the day. Many are retired senior police officers and others are high ranking members of the armed forces. Some are top political office holders and others are well connected business gurus. This is why the battle is hard for the poor people to fight every time these Fulani herdsmen strike in our communities. These rich fools in our communities usually provide the warfare and manpower for them to fight and kill thier own kinsmen without a bleak of conscience in their hearts.
However, and more importantly, since the root causes of this problem is known, I think we can equally profer solutions to it. The first solution to this problem lies on the Nigerian legislature. With the spate of killings and fierce havoc done to our people over the years by these Fulani herdsmen, the issue has out-grown state issue and it’s now a national issue. Therefore, we are reminding the incoming and new members of the house of representatives and senators especially those from this part of Nigeria to take the bull by the horn this time around. To further show that our government is really in full support of the activities of these Fulani herdsmen, it’s very unglaring to see that all through the electioneering campaigns for the 2019 general elections by the various presidential and governorship candidates of the different political parties, none of them spoke on this serious security problem confronting the Niger Delta people. They only harped on unnecessary things without touching this all important issue of life and death. This further shows that, the pains and agonies of the people is not part of their political agenda. It’s neither the reason why they are seeking for thier political positions. If the entire people are dead or our communities are exterminated, who will vote for them? In all, the National Assembly should come up with bills to stop this errant grazing of cattle by these Fulani herdsmen in our lands. The purpose of voting for these legislators is to sponsor bills that can guarantee the peace and protection of fundamental human rights of the electorates. This task must be upheld with every sense of decorum by our representatives and legislators.
Another important solution is that, the government should know that cattle rearing is a personal agro business. Having known this, one person’s business should not be used to threaten or disturb another person’s business. This is a breach of business law in Nigeria. If this is the case, the issue of cattle ranch then comes in. Cattle ranch is the international practice of cattle rearing in every advanced country of the world. For instance, in Europe and America, cattle are not allowed to graze in every place. Such international practice should be adopted in Nigeria too. As Nigerians, the Fulani herdsmen are allowed by our constitution to engage in any business that is approved by the constitution or the government. But the point is that, such business should not interfere or disrupt another person’s business. To achieve this, Fulani herdsmen should stationed thier cattle in a secluded environment where they can feed them with these grasses instead of using them to forment troubles every time in our communities. In this way, it will definitely create cordial and peace relationship again between these Fulani herdsmen and our people. Everyday clashes between hersmen and farmers will be a thing of the past. Since it’s a personal business, it’s not the duty of the government to establish or create ranches for herdsmem in our own land as being insinuated by the Buhari led federal government some time ago. Our constitution doesn’t specify that. The owners of the cattle have to negotiate with community leaders and land owners on how to buy or lease the land for the use of their business.
Finally, community leaders that are induced by these Fulani herdsmen to sell entire community for them should desist from doing so henceforth. The community leaders we are talking about here are the bigwigs in the community. They are the traditional rulers of the various communities, chiefs, chairmen or presidents of communities, religious leaders, political leaders and many others. As a community leader, one of the cardinal objectives of every leadership is to protect the people and properties of the community against any external attack and not to sell them for selfish aggrandizement. They must be aware that community leadership is quite different from corporate government leadership. Community leadership is being guided and regulated by ancestral powers and nemesis. This is unlike corporate government where our politicians loot the treasury dry and also cover themselves with every pellet of corruption but cannot be removed until the law takes its course. Therefore, whatever community leaders are doing in expense of the indigenes, nemesis will always catch up with them in due time. Let our government adopts the above few tips to nip this evil menace in the bud once and for all.

Young Erhiurhoro;Kjc is a reporter and member of the Urhobo Historical Society.

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