Events relating to the activities of Fulani herdsmen across the length and breadth of the country have stretched my patriotic fibre to its limits and Hamlet-like begin to wonder whether I am still a Nigerian or living in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The murderous activities of the Fulani herdsmen in Kaduna, Benue, Cross River, Enugu, Plateau and my dear Delta State are putting to test the security agenda of the Buhari administration. Whether the indifferent and docile attitude of the government springs from the reality that the nation helmsman is a Fulani and that he is also owner of cattle are subjects to conjecture. But the plea here is that the government should not make some of us think especially in the south that there are two sets of Nigerians – the citizens and the subjects. The image of the Fulani Republic of Nigeria staggers imagination.
Today the Fulani herdsmen according to the Global Terrorism Database rank fourth among terrorists groups and that Boko Haram is a shade ahead the Fulani herdsmen in the areas of bloodletting and senseless killing of innocent men and women. It is rather unfortunate that these orgies of killing by the herdsmen have not attracted any strong response from the federal government. Even the kidnapping of Olu Falae, a former secretary to the federal government and a former presidential candidate could not change the mindset of those who are temporarily holding the reins of power at Aso Rock. But I know that southerners cannot go to the north and humiliate a northern of the stature of Olu Falae and go scot free. These issues, the executive and the legislative arms of government at the federal level are treating with levity. The Buhari administration should act fast before Fulani herdsmen compete for infamy and brutality with IS of the world.
I know that animal husbandry is an occupation and those who have cows should establish ranches for them and that some states can even carve out areas as grazing reserves. All these things are not done and the supporters of Fulani herdsmen would tell us that there is freedom of movement. The constitutional provision of freedom of movement should not be equated with the destruction of farm products, the raping of women and the unprovoked killing of people. Even more outlandish was the stance of a certain northern governor that some Fulani herdsmen were paid to stop their murderous activities. If we are not living in the Fulani republic, such a governor should be brought to justice by encouraging Fulani herdsmen to kill innocent Nigerians and pay them for doing just that.
Another unfortunate stance of a prominent northern figure, this time, a traditional ruler, was that these Fulani herdsmen are not Nigerians. This is a very beautiful line of argument. If these murderous Fulani people are not Nigerians, what are the security forces and allied forces doing to bring them to justice? There are too many lies, half truth and excuses as far as the murderous activities of these Fulani herdsmen are concerned and these are the issues giving the agitators for Biafra and other separatists enough manure for their positions.
While the governor of Enugu state could take solace in weeping, the Ekiti state governor had taken a legal and legislative position by enacting law against unauthorized grazing. The Ekiti governor should be commended but the issue is really beyond him. It needs a federal might to solve it once and for all.
For a leader who promised to do justice to all manners of persons, the stance of President Muhammadu Buhari is an unfortunate disappointment. I was a strong supporter of Buhari before and after the presidential elections. I used my pen to push his policies. But today I am sorely disappointed in his handling of the Fulani herdsmen menace. I appreciate his fight against corruption and the defeat of Boko Haram. If the president and commander- in- chief of the nation can use half of that energy, the Fulani herdsmen shall be brought under the rule of law.
It is a common knowledge that the Fulani herdsmen are well armed and some of them bearing AK 47, yet other Nigerians with double barrel guns are arrested for not getting license. It thus translates to mean that the Fulani herdsmen are special breed of people and that they are above the law.
Oweh, a journalist writes from Asaba, Delta State.