By Ochreome Nnanna
We now know what President Muhammadu Buhari was doing when he failed to attend the burial of plane crash victims: Chief of Army Staff, the late Ibrahim Attahiru, and 10 officers last Saturday. He was too busy perfecting his response to the Southern Governors’ ban on open grazing.
Through a statement issued by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, Buhari supported his Attorney General, Abubakar Malami’s widely condemned view that the ban was “unconstitutional”. The President approved the rehabilitation of “grazing reserves in the states”, starting from June 2021.
Buhari had earlier asked the Minister of Agriculture, Mohammed Nanono (the man who with impunity built a mosque worth N30 million for herdsmen with money from his ministry) to “rediscover” what he called “grazing reserves” throughout the country. Nanono recently submitted a report to Buhari, though they have not made public the areas that constitute these “grazing reserves”.
Thus, a line has been drawn on the sand between the Southern governors who spoke the minds of their people (judging from the absolute support their Asaba Declaration enjoyed at all levels of opinion) and the cabal in Buhari’s presidency. Now, who blinks first?
It is notable that the president intends to commence the activation of the “grazing reserves” from June, which marks the beginning of his last two years in power. What it means is that between now and May 29, 2023, we can expect a lot of heat around this issue.
What Buhari has in mind is nothing but confiscating people’s lands throughout the country to settle nomadic pastoralists. Fulanisation agenda is the name for it. This is the agenda to forcefully graft Fulani from all over Africa into indigenous lands by federal might. He wants to take land from those who have and give it to his kinsmen who have none without the express permission of the landowners or the state governors who are holding the lands in trust for their people.
Since this administration came to power six years ago, its officials have come with all sorts of subterfuges to achieve this end: “Ruga”, “cattle colonies”, “confiscation of water resources”, “National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP”; “National Agricultural Land Development Authority, NALDA; “federal gazette to confiscate some lands”, among others, which have been staunchly rejected in the South and the Middle Belt.
This regime had looked the other way while armed herdsmen attack and kill people and forcefully settle on their lands. This act of terrorism is something this administration has studiously refused to identify as part of the security threats facing the nation, let alone designating them terrorists and fighting them. Indeed, Femi Adesina, Buhari’s spokesman, once told indigenous Nigerians to surrender their ancestral lands or die at the hands of these attackers. Highwaymen used to say: “your money or your life?”. Now, Femi Adesina is telling us: “your ancestral land or your life?”
What it means is that the regime allowed these attacks all over the country in order to proffer the seizure of people’s lands for the settlement of these barbaric elements as Buhari’s own idea of restoring “peace”. The Fulanisation agenda is no longer a rumour. It is a living reality being fanatically pursued by this one-sided government at the expense of innocent, peaceful, and law-abiding indigenous Nigerians.
Let us even examine this agenda as a recipe for “peace”. We are on our farms trying to eke a living. Strangers come with arms to kill us, rape our women, destroy our farms and abduct some of us for ransom. Instead of the government to protect us, they describe these attacks as “clashes” between us and the armed strangers just because those strangers are their kinsmen. The government refuses to protect us. Instead, when we try to fight back, the government sends its army, police, and security agencies to arrest and kill us. Those we captured and handed over to the government for prosecution are released with their deadly arms to continue attacking us.
Then, the government says we must give up our land to these violent strangers who are now claiming that our land belongs to them. And government expects this to bring about peace! Where is the logic in this assumption? Where is the sense? Where is the peace? I see no peace at all. All I see are wars and more wars until the strangers are comprehensively uprooted and sent back, bleeding from all pores, to where they came from. Fulanisation, no matter in what form it is presented, is a recipe for endless conflicts, not peace. Is this the legacy Buhari wants to leave behind? He will only expose his people to danger and massive loss.
I don’t know what Buhari means by “rehabilitating the grazing reserves in the states”. There are no grazing reserves in the 17 states of Southern Nigeria. How can there be? Are Fulani indigenous to the South? Even if there are a couple of reserves in the South West (which I doubt that the landowners consented to), the same cannot be said to be true of the South East and South-South. I know only of cattle markets in some towns, which are legitimate businesses under local control.
The Southern governors have made it clear that open grazing remains banned. On this single page, the people and governments of the South stand. Fulanisation is a conquest agenda that was used to subjugate the North to establish the Sokoto Caliphate dominated by the Fulani. This cannot be extended to the South in this day and age, no matter how powerful those today controlling our Federal Government thinks they are. It will be vehemently resisted. It is already being vehemently resisted, and it will never stop being resisted in the South.
Those who lose their lands to conquerors become slaves to them. I never was a slave and never will be!