By Nwangwu Uba
Northern Elders Forum, NEF, appears to have lost confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari leadership to protect the interest of Nigerians in every part of the country. Worried by the beating of the drum of war in the south west following the killing of Mrs. Funke olakunrin, the daughter of Reuben Fasoranti, the leader of Afenifere, a Yoruba, socio-cultural Organisation, made worse by inflammatory Statements by prominent leaders from the region including former president Olusegun Obasanjo, NEF directed the Fulani herdsmen to leave the southern part of the country and return to the north to do their pastoring work.
The NEF may have had the backing of the Coalition of Northern Groups , CNG, who had said that Buhari and his government would be held responsible should any norther fall victim of the consequences of the concerns they had raised about the safety of Fulani herdsmen in the southern part of the country. The argument of the Group was that the life of the herdsmen is no longer safe in the south. The Katsina born Nigerian President who did not find the NEF directive funny had queried the intentions of the Organisation with such directive.
The President has made it clear that there was no reason for anyone to create fear in the country as the security situation of the country was under control, insisting that ‘’all citizens of Nigeria are free to move and live within any part of the country, the please, whether or not they are originally from there’’.
Garba Shehu, senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity may have his mind when he said that the ‘’polarising role of NEF, and those other people dabbling on the issues of security to score cheap political points has for long been a sore point in the country’s body polity’’.
He may have read the handwriting on the wall of the intentions of the mischief makers that he had cautioned the leaders to be ‘’mindful of their utterances and its potential consequences following the unfortunate killing of the daughter of the daughter of the Afenifere leader, Pa Fasoranti. The President who could not hide his feelings had warned against politicizing the killing or face the ‘’potential consequences’’.
The Presidential warning to the leaders was an indication that he would not hesitate to send the Department of State Security, DSS, and the Police after them as he had made it clear to all that cares to listen that a time of tragedy like this are not time to play politics with it’’.
Adeyeye Ogunlesi, the Oni of Ife, who was one of the few monarchs in the south west to condemn the killing of Pa Fasoranti’s daughter by herdsmen may have mobilized others to sue for peace as they have declared that the region does not’’ want war’’. The monarch who may have spoken the mind of the other Yoruba Traditional rulers last Thursday after a meeting with Buhari, noted that the’’ challenge in the south west is real as most rural Communities have been occupied by strangers ‘’.
The good news was that the Yoruba monarchs have promised to ‘’work with the government to restore peace in the region . Appealing to the President for the reinforcement of the security agencies to defend themselves from people they described as bad eggs who may not all necessarily be Fulani herdsmen. The Yoruba Obas have a note of warning for those beating the drums of war as well as the politicians escalating the crisis to desist from such acts that are capable of causing anarchy as the nation cannot withstand a war.
The leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, may have known that there is danger ahead as they have called for the Collaboration of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in uniting the different religious groups in the country for peaceful resolutions of the crisis.
Baba Ngelzarma, the National Secretary of MACBAN, confirmed that the group had begun different stakeholder engagements across the country to solve the problem. The MACBAN, leadership, who had visited CAN, officials at Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, had given their words to support the police in prosecuting the suspected killers of the Afenifere Leader’s daughter, Mrs. Olakunri, who have been arrested.
The leadership of MACBAN, may have sought the partnership of CAN, in the search for a lasting solution to the interactive conflict between farmers and herdsmen and the recent killing of the Afenifere leader’s daughter in the south to demonstrate its desire towards peace. That much was confirmed by Ngelzarma.
He may have disclosed the root cause of the conflict between farmers and Fulani herdsmen which over the last five years had snowballed into rape, kidnapping and killings due to ‘’scarcity of pasture over grazing reserves as a result of Climate change’’. This may have informed why the Buhari administration had come up up with the Ruga Settlement policy to address the problem through a 10-year National Livestock Transformation plan, NTLP, 2019 _ 2028.
The MACBAN, National Secretary, may have confirmed the initial fear of Nigerians that the group was instrumental to the formulation of the plan, as it had said that they have already trained its state and national executive officers on negotiation, peace building and Conflicts prevention in preparation for implementation of the plan.
Public outrage may have forced the government to suspend the pan but Abba Kyari, Chief Staff to the President, may have opened up on a new plan for the project as he revealed that a new implementation Committee , comprising of officials of the ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development , National Economic Council, NEC, and the National Food and Security Council, NFSC, to review the plan which is expected to gulp over N26 billion this year. Muhammed Abubakar Badru, governor of Jigawa state, may have Collaborated Kyari’s view when he said that the project had only been suspended as ‘’it would still be implement when all the necessary measures have been put place’’.
Orji Uzor, a former governor of Abia state, and now Chip Whip of the All Progressive Congress , APC, in the Senate, had said that there was no basis for the conflict over the Ruga project , noting that he started one in Lokponta in 2001 , without any problem as the Cows were being sold in Umuahia and Aba.
Given an insider information he disclosed in starting the project, the government held extensive Consultation with the people and invited the Hausa/Fulani Community for a meeting where it was agreed that the government should provide them land, water, electricity and everything, that would be their location for grazing their Cattles. He blame the President for heating up the polity as the project was not properly marketed to the people. According to him ‘’people in the villages do not understand what Ruga means as they see it as the Fulani herdsmen coming to take over their land and kill them. He would want Nigerians to believe that most of the Cattles found grazing in the southern part of the country were not owned by Fulanies alone as most were owned by no fulanis including himself.
Meanwhile, Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano state, has made a suggestion to the Presidency on the need to abolish the movement of herdsmen from the northern part of the country to the southern part , noting that it it the only to stop the persistent clash between farmers and herdsmen. The governor averred that the movement creates a lot of problems. The suggestion was as good as dead as the President has made it clear that Nigerians are free to live in any part of the country and do their business without restriction as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended.