Fielding questions from journalists in Katsina recently, the Kano state
governor, Abdullahi Ganduje availed the world of what his administration has been able to do in the past few years to stem the tide of insurgency and banditry, saying, “we are building a Ruga settlement in Samsosua forest, our border with Katsina and we have succeeded in curtailing the effect of banditry in that area. So, we are building many houses, constructing a dam, establishing a cattle artificial insemination centre. We are establishing a veterinary clinic and already, we have started building houses for herdsmen.
“My advocacy is that we should abolish the transportation or trekking of herdsmen from the northern part of Nigeria to the middle belt and to the southern part of Nigeria.
“There should be a law that will ban it, otherwise, we cannot control the conflicts between herdsmen and farmers and cannot control the cattle rustling which are affecting us greatly,” Ganduje was quoted as saying.
For Benue state deputy governor, Engr. Benson Abounu, Ganduje’s advocacy is worth embracing, adding that having seen it all (the governor was once a cattle rearer), his recommendation of a law prohibiting nomadic grazing should be given a chance to bear fruits across the country.
Abounu who stated this as a guest in the Channels television breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, also expressed worry over the huge assemblage of herders in the Nasarawa/Benue border, wandering why the development has not been given the attention it deserves.
He said: “I am very impressed with the governor of Kano state because dispassionately, he said, ‘stop this nomadic nature of the movement of cattle from the north to south. Find a place of abode for them and have them do modern business of animal husbandry.’ I am very impressed with Governor Ganduje and I have personal interactions with him in the past. He told me he tended cattle for about 9 years even before he went to school. We should listen to him and I think the authority should listen to him.”
He added that activities of herders were becoming worrisome even as he credited Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa state for voicing out his findings recently at a meeting with President Buhari.
“All this started when the governor of Nasarawa state made the statement that he made when he visited the President and that’s what pushed us to hold a Security Council meeting. At the meeting, we took briefs from all the security agencies.
We cannot say if actually the people between the boundary of Benue and Nasarawa states were Boko Haram insurgents but what we found out at the time was that we had a massive number of herdsmen with so many cattle on the brink of the river. Some of them are still on the bank of the river on the Nasarawa state side overlooking Agatu local government. We know it has been their intention to cross over because we have a very rich Fadama in Agatu and this is a place of choice for herdsmen to graze their cattle.
“We also have a good number of them overlooking Guma local government area. We are still investigating. We have not gotten additional information as to whether Boko Haram insurgents are on the boundary between Nasarawa and Benue state,” he stressed.
Like the deputy governor, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mike Ozekhome agrees completely with Ganduje saying, ”The governor is damn right. Reason is finally returning from its vacated seats across the country, irrespective of ethno-religious divides and proclivities. It shows everyone is beginning to appreciate that insecurity knows no tribe, religion, language or status. It is immune to wealth or poverty.”
Although ranches are the way to go, Anthony Sani, immediate past Secretary General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, told Saturday Vanguard that a good number of the herders know very little about the practice, even as he added that they (herdsmen) do not have the wherewithal to establish them.
“People do not seem to appreciate the reality on ground that nomads are landless. They do not know much about ranches let alone to know the socioeconomic benefits as to be motivated into embracing it. Again, they do not have the wherewithal to establish ranches.
“The clamour by some people that herders should stop open grazing and establish ranches with sleight of the hand can be likened to asking our farmers to stop subsistence farming with cutlasses and hoes in favour of modern farming.
“The preference for ranches and modern farming by all Nigerians are certainly not in doubt, but to expect them to take place off and on like a television is not realistic. Stopping open grazing and subsistence farming with cutlasses and hoes in favour of ranches and modern farming can become reality only through consciously directed efforts by both the government and the people. They cannot be achieved by mere declaration of wishful thinking,” Sani said.
In her usual deep way of looking at sensitive issues, famous activist and co-founder of the Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, movement, Aisha Yesufu labelled Ganduje’s proposal as “mundane,” adding that movement of cattle is not the exclusive preserve of herdsmen alone.
Her words: “The proposal is laughable and it is a mundane way of looking at things. When such a law is enacted and I come to the north to buy cows, does it mean I can’t transport them to the south? Let’s look at it this way: are there still people walking all the way from Kano to Onitsha, Kano to Agbede or from Kano to Lagos? Do these herdsmen and women walk from one part of the country to the other? Or are they already settled in these parts of the country? We need to talk about many things. So, I don’t support this.
“What about people buying cows from the north and transporting them to the south? It is not just herdsmen that move cattle these days. There are a lot of people involve in the trade. The federal government should take the issue of herdsmen very seriously. There is anger, acrimony and animosity as a result of this issue and the government does not seem to be doing anything.”
She went down memory lane to recall how herdsmen morphed from the harmless lot they were to purveyor of deaths over time.
“We must not forget that the reason herdsmen started harming themselves in Nigeria was because of armed robbery. They were being robbed and they had cash with them because they were not using banks. So, they were always targeted. While this was happening, government was not doing anything.
Today, they are the ones terrorising, killing and raping people in their farms. The worrisome aspect of this is that genuine ones who are truly herdsmen looking after cattle are being attacked also because of the activities of the criminal ones.
“The federal government should go after terrorists, all of them. The Commander-in-Chief should live his title and ensure that lives and properties of Nigerians are protected and safeguarded,” she added.
Perhaps, Ganduje’s proposal needs some modification to stand a chance of curtailing the activities of bandits across the land. As it were, government has a huge role to play to make Nigeria safe for all.
That Ortom’s outcry!
By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom, four days ago came out of isolation after a successful week-long treatment for COVID-19 and couldn’t hold back his views on the state of the nation.
Benue ranching law:If you recall when late Moshood Abiola was being honored in Abuja, I said that the prohibition of open grazing and provisions of ranches law as propagated by our government will, in the near future, be celebrated as we were celebrating June 12 and the late Abiola.
In about three years it is happening. All those who supported us in the struggle when we told Nigerians and Benue people that there is no alternative but to legislate banning open grazing can attest to it. That is what we have done in Benue state.
Today we have relative peace because there is a legislation on ground. And anybody that comes here to graze in our farms, forests or the neighborhood in violation of our law will be caught and prosecuted. And our people are with us.
It’s on records that hundreds of people have been convicted. Some paid their fines and all that. And over 12,000 herds of cattle have been arrested and quarantined until people came and paid the necessary fines to have them released.
Where they failed to pay, we auctioned the impounded cow as stipulated by law and we are not going to relent.
Benue state has no intention of scraping the law. I am happy to note that presently even in the north east and west there is the agitation that everyone should ranch.
We all can see that on the issue of kidnapping, we were one of the first states in Nigeria that enacted the law stipulating capital punishment for those who are convicted. Today several states have taken after what we started here in Benue.
So we appreciate God for giving us the foresight. And we must commend the Benue people, the civil servants, traditional rulers and everyone for standing with us especially in the 2019 election when despite the plans to get me out, the people stood with me to ensure I won that election.
Herdsmen crisis:This country belongs to all of us and the federal government, the presidency must act fast because we are running out of time. From North West, North East, North Central, South East, South West and South South, there is general insecurity and this is being propelled by herdsmen.
I want to repeat, I have made a petition to the presidency and to all security agencies before that if they want peace in Nigeria the leadership of Miyetti Allah must be arrested.
These are people who have owned up. They have taken responsibility that they have killed, maimed, raped and also carried out all sorts of atrocities yet their leadership is in Abuja and nobody is confronting them.
Not until these people are arrested we will not know peace. When I talked I was castigated, vilified and there was nothing bad they did not say against me.
But the reality is here. It is not only in Benue state, today it is happening in the entire country.
Why is the federal government silent about these Fulani people(herdsmen). When will the federal government come out to criticize and arrest herdsmen carrying AK47? When are they going to do that?
Are we second class citizens in this country? What makes a Fulani man superior to other citizens of this country? We are not their slaves.
And so the Federal Government must act fast. At a point in time the federal government came out with a policy through the police that even those with licensed guns should surrender them to the police.
My question is, how many times have the presidency come out to condemn Fulani herders that carry AK47 all over the place? This is not correct.
We stand for justice, equity and fairness. Whatever is happening to the Fulani man should happen to every other person. That was why I called on the federal government to license me and many others to also carry guns and AK47 riffle to protect ourselves from these armed herdsmen. You cannot disarm me and arm the Fulani herdsman. It is not right.
The federal government is biased and unfair. The failure of our security is caused by the federal government.
Or maybe, what I perceive is that the President is not aware of what is going on. Because I believe that if he is aware he would stop it.
I know Gen. Muhammdu Buhari (Retd.) as someone who has discipline. But the people around him, sycophants and mediocres are not willing to let him know the pains Nigerians are going through.
South West crisis