By Ola Ajayi
As the Oyo State Police Commissioner, Mr Abiodun Odude organised a reconciliatory meeting at the Police headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan where all the stakeholders rubbed minds on how lasting peace can reign in the state, participants at the interactive session proffered many solutions to the Fulani-herders/farmers’ crises which have become a recurring decimal.
Unlike previous meetings which were characterised by low turnout, this latest meeting was well attended by religious groups, leaders of farmers and Fulani herders, government officials and community leaders.
Speaking with Vanguard in a telephone interview, the head of farmers in Ibarapa Local Government Area of the state, Mr Oyinlola Bolanle explained why the farmers decided to poison their crops to prevent cattle from destroying them.
According to him, when issues occur between farmers and Fulani herdsmen, the security agents always do the bidding of the pastoralists because they have more money than the farmers. In most cases, when cases are reported to the security agents, we get the blame while the herders are treated as kings.
“There was a case here at Ayete when a farmer reported that cows had destroyed his farm; at the end, that farmer was made to pay N250,000 to the herder,” he alleged.
“When we knew that we would not get justice from any quarters, we then resorted to using poison to protect our farms. It is because our government doesn’t want to spend on agriculture. If they want to spend, they can get CCTV cameras installed in rural areas. This will enable us to know who to hold responsible when their cattle destroy our farms, he noted.”
Also, our House of Assembly members should promulgate a law that would check the excesses of these herders and when such law is in operation, they should monitor its implementation.
At the peace meeting, Apostle Joshua Ojo, a traditional ruler from Iberekodo called on the Federal Government to take proactive measures about our porous borders saying most of the Fulani herdsmen who unleash terror on innocent Nigerians sneak in from other neighbouring countries.
He added that the Fulani herdsmen should avoid using underage boys for grazing their cattle. He suggested that those who should be asked to graze should not be less than 15 years.
We don’t want attacks in Oyo—Govt
Governor Ajimobi’s representative at the meeting, Mr Segun Abolarinwa said the peace being enjoyed in the state was as a result of collective efforts of both the government and security agencies.
He said: “We don’t want a repeat of attacks that engulfed states like Taraba, Benue, Enugu and Yobe here in Oyo. We have been living together in peace for several years. Robbery attacks and violent activities by members of NURTW have stopped and we don’t want anything to rupture the peace. If there is trouble in Nigeria, with the population of about 170 million, where do we run to?
Hajia Aisha, S/W leader of Arewa Women from 19 northern states pleaded with all parties to do what they could to avoid clash because women and children always feel the brunt. Many speakers including Fulani herders and farmers reiterated it several times that they are not enemies but friends stressing that all they need is to settle minor skirmishes that may occur.