THE POPULAR saying that warns ‘make
hay while the Sun shines’ would only be
considered reasonable and rational when
there’s still hay left in the bushes as well
as every arena where it’s usually found.
Of course, you can only be conscientized
to grab something on time when the stuff
in question is still available.
For over the years, several communities
across the federation had been subjected
to an untold hardship and seemingly
perpetual torture by the so-called Fulani
herdsmen. I can’t forget in a hurry
that virtually all the states in Nigeria,
particularly those in the Southern region,
have tasted at least a bit of this conundrum
at one time or the other. The aforesaid set
of farmers, rather than concentrating on
grazing towards breeding their livestock,
end up constituting evitable nuisance in
their various host communities, in the
name of ‘revenge’ or what have you.
This domineering and nonchalant
idiosyncrasy of these armed herdsmen
who parade themselves with unspeakable
ammunitions and weapons was arguably
overlooked by the government and other
concerned authorities, not until they
recently unleashed an astonishing terror
on the people of Nimbo Community
in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area
of Enugu State; an attack that ushered
in an unimagined massacre. In the said
crisis, which transpired on Monday
25th April 2016, reportedly scores feared
dead, countless persons maimed, about a
hundred residents injured, several houses
cum churches razed, thereby rendering
over two thousand dwellers homeless.
Though the incident may have come
and gone, it’s imperative to acknowledge
that the peril it inflicted on the living victims
is unarguably an experience they will all live
to recall. Myself, each time I recollect that a
certain community in Enugu State sometime
in the history of this country woke one
morning only to be brutally taken unawares
by a group of total strangers, I invariably take
solace in the ‘notion’ that it could be a mere
Obviously, the deed has already been done,
thus instead of indulging in retrogressive
discourse or debate, the most logical and
viable thing to do at this point is to concentrate
on the way forward. In a situation like this,
having taken a formidable step toward
checking reoccurrence of suchlike menace,
the next most reasonable action to take is to
harmonize the atmosphere or the ties biding
the affected persons or groups.
Frankly, before we witness reprisal, which
is often the most expected consequent
approach whenever such incident transpires,
every concerned quarter or body needs to
leave no stone unturned towards ensuring
that adequate measures are taken with a
view to avoiding further tragic situations
in the country at large. Any reasonable
Nigerian, both at home and in the Diaspora,
who says he/she wasn’t deeply hurt by the
aforementioned ordeal, is to say the least
a monster; hence, all hands are required to
be on deck toward creating the anticipated
The last time I checked, the herdsmen
imbroglio was almost ubiquitous that it
required only a severe and drastic measure
towards addressing it. The governors of the
affected states in their respective jurisdictions,
rather than aggravate the colossal injuries
already caused, ought to map out the areas
to be utilized for grazing on behalf of the
herdsmen. And, the herdsmen shouldn’t be
allowed to move from one state to another,
which often constitute nuisance on our roads.
Moreover, henceforth the grazing activity
should be commercialized by the various
states; it ought to serve as an IGR source for
the states.
Thus, commercialization of the grazing
activity as well as scrapping of routing from
a locality to the other ought to be captured as
one of the clauses in the proposed Grazing
Reserves bill. This is why the citizenry
mustn’t be taken unawares as regards the
said bill; all hands must be involved while
drafting the bill so that every needed clause
or interest would be captured. Similarly,
the government is required to grant soft
loans to the herdsmen to enable them
prepare formidable and lasting ranches
that would stand the taste of time, in their
respective jurisdictions or farms. To this
end, any herdsman who cannot foot the bill
for the grazing activity in any state would
concentrate on his ranch.
However, I want to bring to our knowledge
that it isn’t all the herdsmen that are brutal;
the vandals are just a few among them that
unnecessarily intends to unleash terror on
their host communities, probably owing to
one or two frivolous reasons. To this end, the
bad eggs must be fished out via the effort of
the leadership of the herdsmen’s coalition,
and thereafter brought to book. The relevant
law enforcement agents ought to take this
step very seriously.
I’m a social crusader who strongly
believes in ascertaining the fundamental
cause(s) of any anomaly if truly the lapse
in question must be addressed holistically
or toward restoring normalcy, and this
very one isn’t exceptional. Hence, I enjoin
the apt authorities such as the Police, in
collaboration with other relevant agencies,
to embark on a rigorous finding with a view
to ensuring that they ascertain the prime origin of the ongoing state of unrest. In
addition, governments at all levels should
variously set up committees to look into
this aspect.
Town hall meetings equally ought
to be randomly scheduled to sensitize
the general public on their civic
responsibilities in this regard as well as to
give the affected host communities a sense
of belonging. We must note that we can’t
completely unravel this state of quagmire
without employing Community Policing,
which would be thoroughly effective and
efficient only if the entire dwellers are
carried along. We mustn’t take any action
without involving the potential victims of
the mayhem.
There’s also need for us, especially the
security agents, to headlong stop inserting
‘Fulani’ whenever we intend to speak
or write on anything pertaining to the
herdsmen; we must take into cognizance
that anyone could be a herdsman
regardless of his/her place of origin.
Besides, anyone who intends to hurt
you might come in disguise as anything;
needless to reiterate that someone or a
group that had been longing to terrorize
you, may decide to hide under the guise
of herdsmen. Thus, we must be duly
guided on how we go about the so called
Fulani herdsmen.
I can’t round off this critique without
reminding the various governments
on the need to embark on a massive
compensation programme, not just in
Nimbo Community but all over Nigeria.
Let’s make hay while the Sun shines now
it (hay) is still available in the various
bushes. Think about it!
Nwaozor, public affairs analyst and civil
rights activist, writes from Owerri

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