Honourable Abdullahi Bello, the former acting governor of Kogi State, in this conversation, speaks on the current tense political atmosphere across the country due to general insecurity and possible way out. KUNLE ODEREMI brings some excerpts:
I think this boiled down to failure in the area of leadership and more so that we have simply refused to learn from history. We voted people into position of political leadership but most of these leaders lacked the will to run our affairs as one whole nation. Sectional considerations is now the norm leading to this near total breakdown of law and order; our police and armed forces are being overwhelmed and the obvious fact that you don’t need anyone to tell Nigerians now that everyone must be ready to defend themselves using any means available. And this is a consequence of what looks like lack of care or concern from the top level leadership in our country.
There’s no doubt that it’s not correct to give ethnic or religious coloration to crime, just as we have attempted with the ongoing Fulani tribe being completely labeled as the only people involved in kidnapping all over the country; but the silence from our Commander in Chief means a lot, himself being a Fulani man. It’s dangerous for him to maintain this policy of not openly condemning all these criminal misbehaviour by Nigerians in view of our current situation where wrong profiling has stuck with the Fulani. We have criminals be it kidnapping, robbery, 419, ritual killers and so on, among all Nigerian ethnic tribes.
And therefore, it is not absolutely correct to ascribe the odious act of killing and kidnapping to one tribe; that is, Fulani men only. In my town in Central Nigeria, Okene, to be precise, many acts of kidnapping were successfully carried out within the township, and to the best of my knowledge, the kidnappers can’t be Fulani men. They are locals. And I also believe this to be same in most of our urban settlements in other parts of Nigeria where kidnapping has become the order of the day. This is, however, not to say that Fulani men are free from these terrible acts, as some of them that were caught within our forest reserves allegedly speak Fulfude, and in most cases, look foreign from our indigenous Fulani community.
And until our Nigerian Fulani and their registered association desist from recognising these strangers from outside, who found their way into our land as their ‘own’, and thus offering them unnecessary cover, and until such a time, they may not be able to absolve themselves from the current beliefs that Fulani herdsmen are entirely responsible for our present travails.
But if I may ask, why are we refusing to accept ranching at this digital time? We have so many successful herds/cattle breeding ranches all-over Nigeria now that this outdated mode of moving cattle throughout the nooks of this country has not only become obsolete and incompatible with our level of development, but in addition now that criminals has adopted the herdsmen as identified franchise make it more ideal for the peaceful Fulani men to agree to ranching, in order to free themselves from the current accusations of any hidden territorial expansionist agenda and the spilling of innocent blood during kidnapping and other crimes.
Last week, I was somewhere around Central District Business Area in the Federal Capital in Abuja, and some cattle invaded our office environment with impunity. For God’s sake, can this be normal? Can any cocoa, yam, cassava or poultry farmer from any other part of Nigeria attempt this offensive culture by invading your legal land space with his agric-business? I think moving forward that the recent Governor Abdullahi Ganduje option needs to be taken seriously. And we have almost been pushed to the point of agreeing to the establishment of state police.
Our constitution needs urgent amendment in order to accommodate state police formation across the 36 states, including Abuja. I urge all state governments to enact enabling laws to regulate all agricultural businesses including animal husbandry activities within their territory, and such laws must not conflict with our national Constitution. We need to modernise our cattle rearing business so as to reduce the current dangers which confront us. There’s no free land anywhere in this country, and, therefore, federal authorities should hands-off the unacceptable policy of maintaining reserve in the states. If the Federal Government still insists on maintaining forest reserves, it may do so in Abuja, our nation’s capital, and not states where it cannot control the occurrence of crimes and or providing comprehensive protection to the local farmers in those states who are constantly easy target for the rampaging ‘criminal’ herdsmen. If yam and cassava farmers cannot move overnight from Ekiti State into Zamfara State and take land there for their farm business, if rice farmers from Abakaliki in Ebonyi State cannot over night take over the rice fields in Kano, and if the Benue or Taraba farmers cannot invade Abriba in Abia State and take over their farmland, I am of the opinion that it’s improper for any Fulani herdsmen whether criminal or not to hold on to their wrong beliefs of having the whole land space in Nigeria as their right to take at anytime they so desire. What is wrong is wrong, and this is where we are. And this is where leadership is in short supply leading to the present anarchy.
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