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Cattle Owners As The Third Force By Olaniyi Ajibola

“These are not the type of herdsmen we used to know in our community,  these are not the lovely Fulani men that do give us bush meats as gift whenever we meet them on our way to farms.
Fulani Hesman

“It is our greatest surprise that the hitherto peaceful people suddenly became cruel and heartless, with scary posture amongst communities .

“These people, on any little provocation overrun communities at will, killing and maiming in the most brutal manner you can think of,  making life extremely nasty for harmless inhabitants.

“This trend of herdsmen aggression is taking a very dangerous dimension capable of setting our nation on fire; Federal Government as a matter of importance must move fast to save the situation”, said David Adeyi from Dekina Local Government of Kogi.

In the same vein,  a community leader in Oko-agbe,  a rustic town in Akoko North of Ondo  State,  Chief Thomas Awe decried the invasion of farmlands by Fulani herdsmen and their violent reaction against farmers.

Awe said the violent activities of herders against farmers pose a serious threat to food security in Nigeria,  as many farmers are presently abandoning their farms for other menial jobs to avoid clash with herders.

“The activities of Fulani herdsmen are simply criminal and clear -cut infringement of people’s right, obviously these people are pushing Nigerian people to the wall,  the outcome might be unexpected and shocking.

“What makes the situation  worst is that some of these herders even go to the extent of abusing women sexually, this is indeed an abomination of greatest magnitude”, Awe resorted.

Elder Thiophilus Emmanuel from Gboko Local Government of Benue State captured the whole saga this way” This is an outright “Fulani occupation” in the middle belt by elements of Fulani mafias, who are out to continue their primordial expansionist tendencies.

“The “genocide” in our land goes beyond clash of economic interests between herders and farmers,  it is purely a well planned move to perpetually subjugate the people of the Benue valley economically, and socially,  and the people will become totally helpless politically.

“If they succeed in Benue,  the rest of the country is in trouble,  which is already playing out now,  look at Taraba,  Edo,  Ondo, Kogi  to name a few”, Awe said.

These and many more are tales of woes in the hands of marauding herdsmen in virtually all the communities of Nigeria, making   widows, widowers, and orphans in the most callous and inhumane manner.

As the menace of incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers rage on across Nigeria,  many discerning Nigerians were taking aback by the coordination of attacks, and sophistication of armament in hands of supposedly “local pastoralists”.

Speaking on the pattern of attacks by Fulani herdsmen,  findings around the country  have revealed  that the armament at the custody of the herders speak volume of a “third force”.

Of course,    there is an established contradictory economic interests between herders and farmers, with each group striving to protect it’s basic economic interest through different means.

While farmers tend to protect their economic interest by preventing cattle from feeding from their farms,  herders see that as calculated attempts to starve their cattle in the absence of any alternative to feed the cows, with attendant  financial loss hence,  the desperacy to force farmers into submission.

As  a farmer is responsible and answerable  to himself and possibly his immediate family,  an herder is responsible and answerable to both the cattle breeders and cattle owner,  he is obviously herding the cattle in trust for cattle owner.

Without mincing words,  cattle owners are not leaving their cattle in the hands of herders and go to sleep, they are always in frequent contact with herders who in turn give them situation reports with regards to challenges in the course of feeding the cows.

It has been discovered through investigation that cattle owners are majorly  powerful Northern elite, some of those who are retired and serving security agents.

This narrative  point blankly brings the source of armament of nomadic Fulani herders to the minds of every rational individual,  more so when there is a conspiracy of silence amongst powerful Northern elite on the bloodshed in various Nigerian communities with almost impunity.

Survive it to say that while cattle breeders and herders  have consistently spoken and confirmed the existing contradictory economic interests between them and farmers, cattle owners with greatest stake have perpetually and dangerously remain mute.

Obviously,  the cattle owners intrinsically remain the invincible but dangerous third force in the ongoing socio-economic war between herdsmen and farmers. The approach of the Federal Government to this ugly trend will forever remain vaque and facade until there is necessary political will to discuss the process of disarmament of Fulani herdsmen with powerful cattle owners whose economic interests are in great jeorpady with farmers’ resistance.

Speaking on the issue,  a sociologist from the University of Ibadan, Dr. James Anjoka said the menace of herdsmen /farmers clashes must be quickly  curtailed to prevent civil strive and political instability.

Anjola argued that there is a limit to how people could be provoked and suppressed by an external force saying efforts must be put in place to douse the rising tension.

He added that security agencies must embark on intelligence gathering process to discover the source of armament of nomadic herders as to put stop to the gruesome murder of innocent Nigerians.

“The Federal Government must as a matter of exigency are out mechanism to douse the tension created by continuous clashes between herdsmen and farmers across the country.

“Also,  security agencies must investigate and discover the source of sophisticated weapons used by these herdsmen,  and mop it up,  that is the only way out of this crisis before it becomes full-flegged war”, he said.

The National Coordinator of a Non-governmental organisation,  Advocacy for Advancement of Peace and Harmony in Africa Initiative (ADAPHAI), Mr Suberu Sulaimon cautioned against a nation -wide breakdown of law and order as a response to Fulani herdsmen’s activities around the country.

Sulaimon explained that the unabated violent activities of herders could make them becoming “persona non grata” in many of Nigerian communities,  and recipe to political instability and kios.

He therefore called on the government at the centre and critical stakeholders in the country to come together and rescue the country from impeding danger.

The Peace Advocate however carpeted some Northern  groups,  under the auspices of Coalition of Northern groups on their position on State Police,  saying the status of Nigeria as an heterogeneous nation requires organised community policing through state police.

As Nigerians generally becoming restless and panic over the herdsmen / farmers clashes that have engulfed the nation unabatedly,  it is pertinent for the federal  government to look out for the third force in the debacle and ameliorate the situation without blemish.

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