Friday, 29 April 2016

Suspicion is the causes of the Crises Between the Herdsmen and the Farmers--Sarki Hausa Speaks out

By Okechukwu Onuegbu

 Gidado Saddiki is the Chairman, Miyeiti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Southeast. This is an umbrella body for the herdsmen and cattle rearers in Nigeria. As the crises between the farmers and herdsmen continues in the Southeastern part of the country, Publisher, Comrade Okechukwu Onuegbu sought for his views on the issue.
The excerpts:

For sometimes now, the Fulani Herdsmen Seemed to have been at Loggerhead with Various Communities in the Country, What Do You Think is the problem?
As a leader of a frontline organisation, Miyeiti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Southeast, which steer the ship of the cattle rearers, what I perceived as the cause of the lingering crises between the cattle rearers and the farmers is suspicion. They suspect each other a lot. While the herdsmen feel that this country belongs to them as well, and as such, they believed they should be allowed to shepherd their cattle at any part of the country without restriction, the local farmers on the other hand, feel that the herdsmen come to dominate them in their farmland. The farmers did not know that the herdsmen come to graze and go. The suspicion is occupying the mindset of the two parties. The farmers see the herdsmen as their enemies. The cattle rearers see the farmers as their enemies. That is the cause of the whole problem between them.

How then do you think the impasse could be resolved?

The remedy is inculcation of tolerance in the mindset of both parties. They need to learn how to accommodate themselves. The farmers should allow the cattle rearers to rear their cattle, while the rearers should allow them to do their farming business. For instance, if the farmers or host community deprive the Fulanis from taking their cattle for grazing, the later will not allow them to do their farming business.

How could you react to the allegations that the herdsmen and their cattle often damage the farmers farmlands?

No Godly man or lover of justice will ever destroy other people wealth. As I like my cow, and will never want any killed, I will not like somebody’s farm destroyed as well. That is the thing. It is atrocity to allow cattle to destroy people farmland. We, the leaders of Fulani will never allow our people to deliberately allow their cattle to graze in anybody’s farmland. We don’t give room for that at all. And we always warn them not to do so else we punish such offender decisively because we will not be happy to see someone destroy our cattle intentionally.

What advise do you for the Fulani herdsmen and the farmers?

In the case of Enugu and Anambra States, their governors are hearing governors. As a result of the love they have for both people, they constituted a committee to be coordinating their activities. In all sincerity, the committee helps the farmers whose farmlands were destroyed to resolve the matter with the Fulanis amicably rather to take the laws into their hands. The same thing is applicable to the Fulanis. The committee frowns at retaliation. You need not to retaliate because you don’t know the person you are retaliating on. Besides, it could be too destructive to be compared to what might have been done to you.
This is why I always charge both parties not to take law in their hands.

However, we use to have little problem at times. Sometimes, politicians will take over the case of alleged farm destruction themselves, and claim compensations of 3million, 4 million, etc. But such case needs not to be politicized because it involves lives and properties.

Also, in most cases, some host communities supply media with wrong information to disseminate. Let me give you instance with Umunbo. Last time the host community killed a Fulani man called Ibrahim Tafio. When they killed him, they went to the police and alleged that the deceased attacked them and was killed in self defence. But the truth remains that for more than 16 years there were never Fulani persons at Umunbo. They killed that man intentionally, and still went to the media and police to disseminate wrong information. We know that Nigeria is for everyone. Wherever you are, we Fulanis believed that we are indigene. But most times, we don’t refer ourselves as indigenes of Anambra state or so. We call Igbos host communities even though some of were born and brought up here. Some have even spent over ten years here.
When often chose to remain mute because we fear that disseminating wrong information or of our ordeals may result to trouble in other parts of the country. This we don’t want to cause. We don’t want our action to instill hatred and war. That is why we don’t go to the police and the media to report. People should not be thinking that we are not learned. We are educated. We are wise. This make my people to react negatively when they could not endure it any more.

Please, Tell us more about the committee in charge of resolving the farmers and herdsmen crises?

I am a member of the committee in Anambra and Enugu States. The two states Commissioner of Police are the Chairmen of the Committee at their respective states. So, any aggrieved farmers or herdsmen can write report to the Commissioner of Police or the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor Obiano on Security, he is the Secretary of the Committee. Others include Igwe Aguleri, he is the royal father of the committee; Igwe Benedith of Umunwa; and Igwe Urum are the traditional rulers in the committee in Anambra State. 

From what you just narrated, Do you think that the society is fair to the Fulanis?

You know that Southeastern states is an Igbo dominant region. They are most hospitable and most peace loving in the country. When something happen you don’t blame them. Some may not be happy over our ordeal, yet they will find it very difficult to talk to avoid been attacked or accused of sabotage.

The National Assembly is discussing of how to demarcate grazing reserve for the herdsmen as ways of eliminating the constant crises between the fulanis and the farmers. Do you see it as lasting solution to the squabbles?

My advise to them is that Nigeria is dynamic. The law that will apply and work effectively in Kogi State, may not apply in Anambra. You need to look, see and consider each states and their cultures before implementing such laws.

If they want to demarcate a grazing reserve, it is fine. But to my own understanding of Nigeria, it is very hard to demarcate grazing reserve in any part of South East States. This is because the landmass is too small and has larger population of people. So, it may not work here because there is no land for the programme. Also, I will state here that ejecting cattle rearers from a community is very wrong. You are violating their fundamental human right of movement when you try that. You must allow them to graze anywhere there is no farm. And if in any situation a herdsman’s cattle destroy someone’s farm, the owner of the cattle will pay him/her adequate compensation to the destroyed farm produce if he refuses to forgive. And any indigene or farmer that kills a cattle will also pay the owner duly compensation. That is what we do in our committee.

Who proposed this your committee?

The fulanis called for it, and it was done because they want peace to reign. A cow owned by one Alh. Sani Abubakar and co, were slaughtered by Ngbunando in Aguleri. The traditional ruler of the community knew about this matter, and they are investigating it to see to resolve it peacefully.

What is your take on the federal government plan to import grasses into this country?

The programme may look so good but it requires the government to train both the herdsmen and the cattle on how to use and feed on the grasses.  You know we don’t use them here. So importing them entails teaching the cows how to feed on them, and teaching the rearers how to use them.



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