Editor’s note: The Fulani people are one of the largest ethno linguistic groups in Africa, numbering approximately 40 million people in total. Ben Bruce, senator-elect from Bayelsa state, is trying to attract attention to the Fulani clashes and proposes ways to solve them.
Fulani clashes in comparison with Boko Haram
It will shock Nigerians to know that more people have died as a result of Fulani/indigene clashes in the last half a decade than have died from terrorist activity occasioned by the Boko Haram terrorist sect. As horrific as individual Boko Haram activities are, they pale in comparison to the barbarous slaughter of over 500 men, women, and children in a single night of terror at Dogo na Hauwa village of Plateau State of 2010.
Terrorist activities occasioned by the Boko Haram terrorist group have been largely localised in Nigeria’s North-east save for some sporadic attacks in other parts of the North and the Federal Capital Territory.
However, Fulani/indigene clashes have occurred in every state of Nigeria bar none! Needless lives have been lost all over Nigeria in these clashes and this will continue in perpetuity if as a nation we do not take steps to change the conditions that give rise to these clashes.
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How Fulani problem appeared
Even before there was a nation called Nigeria, the Fulani had been passing through several nations en route markets all over West Africa. Year in and year out, they followed established grazing routes and as long as their cattle had grass and vegetation to feed on, they coexisted in peace with communities along their grazing routes. But as West Africa became increasingly urbanised, it was and is a matter of time before increase in population put pressure on local communities to use the ancient Fulani grazing routes for farmland or residential purposes.
It is the competition for the scarce commodity of land that has brought about friction between the Fulani’s and the indigenous people along these reserves. So what do we do? What is the solution? Obviously we cannot do nothing and watch as people continue to die all over Nigeria.
The steps to stop watching how people are dying
We must do something and I propose that Nigeria should take the following series of steps. We should restore the ancient grazing routes of Fulani pastoralists. Both the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Federal Ministry of Lands should work with the apex Fulani pastoral association, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, to revive these routes and where there have been farms or houses built on these routes, alternative routes must be found.
Next, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture should give a deadline of no less than 10 years to the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association to convert from pastoral cattle rearing to the modern business of cattle ranching in which cattle are reserved, reared and bred at a central location suitable for such purposes.
Measurable timelines should be agreed with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association for progress towards this objective and penalties for failure to progress towards these timelines must be clearly spelt out.
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Next, the Federal Ministries of Finance and Defence must collaborate through their agencies to monitor and ensure proper taxation of the informal cattle rearing economy and also to ensure that the government can trace the whereabouts of individual Fulani clans. This can be done easily by identifying the cattle rearers entry point into Nigeria and stationing mobile border posts there with armed officials of the Nigerian Customs Service Department of Animal Control.
Upon entry into Nigeria, every cattle must be shot with a homing device which will enable Customs officials and the ministry of defence track each cattle as they enter Nigeria and to pin point their location anywhere within our borders. These devices are cheap and practical.
There is a huge informal economy that is not taxed by the various governments in Nigeria. Tagging these cattle as they enter Nigerian soil will not just have positive security implications, it will also affect the economy positively as the federal government will have accurate numbers of the total cattle on the hoof that enters Nigeria and how much to charge as duty on each cattle.
By tagging the cattle, Nigeria will not only increase her revenue base in a world of falling oil prices, but we will have the additional benefit of knowing in real time where each herd of cattle are within our borders and how to proactively deploy our police and military for internal security issues to prevent Fulani/Indigene clashes. Nigeria has too many intellectuals who know how to analyse problems and give angles to them. But we do not have enough minds working on solutions. We will make more progress if our public intellectualism is geared towards solving than the analysis of challenges. Nations make more progress when their leaders are more concerned with accepting responsibility than with apportioning blame.
Ben Murray-Bruce is a senator-elect from Bayelsa state. He is part of the eighth Senate due for inauguration early June.
Mr. Bruce, motivational speaker role mode to Nigerian youths is a director of several companies in Nigeria as well as in France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Read the rest at Benbruce.org
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.