Traditional rulers on herdsmen/fulani face-off

Oba Rufus Olarewaju Ajayi Of Gbomina-Ekiti

Our Relationship With Our Hosts Is Cordial—Sarki Hausa Of Ile-Ife

The Sarki Hausa of Ife, the chief of Hausa communities in Ife, Alhaji Mahmuda Abubakar Madagali, spoke with Palace Watch on the violent clash between the Hausa community in Sabo area of Ile-Ife and members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW)

Sarki, accept our condolences over the recent violent clash between the Hausa community in Sabo area of Ile-Ife and the Ife people.
Thank you very much, but I would want to correct this wrong impression being created in the media, that the disagreement was between the Hausa community here in Sabo, Ile-Ife and the generality of the Ife people. That is not correct. The altercation that led to the violence was just a mere disagreement between two people. The friction was between a lady, who is said to be a wife of one of the leaders of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and one of our little boys here in Sabo area of Ile-Ife. So, it cannot be said to be a disagreement between the natives and the Hausa people in Ile-Ife.

I have taken pains to explain what happened, just to establish the fact that the crisis was not between the Hausa people, who have lived and earned their living in Ile-Ife for so many centuries and the generality of Ile-Ife people, who have been very good hosts to us. As Muslims, we believe very strongly that whatsoever Allah destined would happen. As no man could stop it, the incident has come and gone and life goes on.

What is important to us, as a people, is the prompt response of Governor Aregbesola, who is the Chief Security Officer in Osun State. He has given us N7.5m to treat those who were injured and they are all getting the best of treatment possible. He also promised to deal decisively with all the perpetrators of this ugly violence. He has commenced action and the matter is under firm control. We trust and believe in him as a person. He has never lied to us in all our dealings with him.

Is true the Hausa people in Ile-Ife and Osun State are leaving because of this ugly incident?
It is not true; we are not leaving the state. Leaving Ile-Ife or Osun State for where? We are all members of these communities. The Ooni of Ife and all the Yoruba leaders here are not at all in support of the reckless actions of the NURTW members. The Governor, His Excellency Raufu Aregbesola is on top of the matter and our security is guaranteed individually and as a group.

For how long have you been the Sarki Hausa of Ife?
I have been on the throne, as the Sarki Hausa of Ife for 25 years and three months. And never before did an ugly incident like this happen. His Imperial Majesty, the Ooni of Ife also sympathised with the Hausa community and expressed his disappointment over the incident. When I accompanied the state governor to see him in his palace, he asked that the matter be properly investigated and all culprits punished.

Long Goemai Shendam Intervenes In Face-off With Fulanis
The newly installed Long Goemai Shendam, His Royal Highness, Miskoom Martin Muduutrie Shaldas III, called for an emergency meeting with Fulani leaders, known as Arodo and elected representatives of the world body of Fulanis, known as the MiyetiAllah (Thank God), in his domain last Friday in a deliberate effort to forestall a possible breakdown of law and order in his domain.

His Royal Highness, who spoke with Palace Watch, said the meeting became necessary, following an incident, which happened in his domain penultimate Wednesday, which would have snowballed into a communal clash. He explained that the ugly incident would have resulted in the mass expulsion of Fulanis from some parts of Shendam.

According to him, a Fulani herdsman went and killed a farmer in his house that Wednesday in the dead of the night, over a minor disagreement, which became an argument between them.

The Shendam king said though the matter had been handed over to the Police, for necessary action, since it is a criminal case, he decided to meet with the Fulani Arodo leaders and Miyeti Allah representatives in his domain since he has already succeeded in calming frayed nerves.

According to him, the murdered native was into rice and yam farming. He had gathered the stumps of rice, which he intended to use for this planting season, as rice stump helps to increase yam production. Unfortunately, the Fulani herdsman drove his herd into where the stumps were kept and the cows ate them.

Expectedly, the farmer confronted the herdsman and a quarrel broke out; hot words were exchanged in the process. That ordinarily should have been the end of the matter, but not for the Fulani man, who felt insulted. So, he waited until very late on that Wednesday night and killed the poor farmer in his residence. The natives in the area were furious. Fortunately, the chief got to know about the incident on time and immediately intervened to restore peace.

The Long Goemai Shendam said such ugly incident could only be controlled or prevented through dialogue and continuous sensitisation of the Fulani people through their leaders and association. He said the Fulanis, like any other ethnic group, have their strengths and weaknesses, just that they usually get very touchy and sensitive over issues, which ordinarily should be regarded as nothing. He said it is part of his duties to constantly engage their leaders and representatives in dialogue.

Respect For One Another Is Recipe For Peace— Oba Rufus Olarewaju Ajayi Of Gbomina-Ekiti
The Oba of Gbomina-Ekiti, Rufus Olarewaju Ajayi, has said respect and mutual understanding is what is required for the people in any community to live peacefully with the Fulani.  He said Gbomina-Ekiti kingdom habours the largest number of Fulani communities in the entire Southwest. And the people of Gbomina-Ekiti kingdom, who are mostly farmers and traders, have successfully co-habited with the Fulani people for centuries now, without any major disagreement or violence.

Oba Ajayi said the only time his people became angry with the Fulani in his domain, was when an incident threw the entire Gbomina-Ekiti people into mourning. He said: “the son of a Fulani man, who had a large herd of cattle in his domain, feel ill, while one of his cows simultaneously also became very sick. Surprisingly, the Fulani man paid little or no attention to his sick son, but concentrated all his attention on the recovery of the sick cow. In the process, the cow recovered, while the sick child died.

“If they had kept quiet after that, there would not have been trouble. Sadly, however, the Fulani man and few of his people began to jubilate over the cow’s recovery. This action shocked and angered the natives, who decided to drive them out of Gbomina-Ekiti land. The Fulani man was alleged to have kept on saying that another child would be born after the boy’s death.

This statement irked my people, and the incident angered and depressed the Gbomina-Ekiti, that it almost resulted in the breakdown of law and order. At that point, I noticed my people were posed for a violent reaction over the incident. The leadership of the kingdom had to immediately summon a meeting with the Fulani leadership in the area, where they were told in clear terms that if such an incident happens again, it will not be tolerated, and that the Gbomina-Ekiti people place more value on human lives than domestic animals and that what the Fulani man did offended their sensibility.”

And to ensure there is constant dialogue and communal relationship between the Fulani people and the natives, one of the Fulanis leaders was appointed into the Gbomina-Ekiti Traditional Council. And since that incident was amicably resolved, the Fulani people in Gbomina-Ekiti now place a lot of value on human lives. They now promptly attend to all health issues of their wards and wives. Since then, there has been a cordial relationship between the natives and the Fulani people.

Oba Ajayi stressed that other than that, in normal trade, commerce and other community relations, the Fulani people get daily supply of the roots, which they use to process cow milk into wara from the natives. There is, therefore, an excellent relation between the natives and the Fulanis, especially the herdsmen in Gbomina-Ekiti.

Iwo Monarch Appeals To Fulanis To Adopt Modern Ways Of Breeding
The Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, Telu I, has appealed to Fulani leaders nation-wide to embrace modern methods of breeding cattle, saying this will be one way to reduce friction between natives and the Fulani herdsmen.

Oba Akanbi, who made the appeal, when Fulani leaders in his domain paid him a courtesy visit in his palace, said the unnecessary deaths resulting from friction between herdsmen and native farmers across the country would be considerably reduced, if Fulani leaders would alternate grazing with hay storage.

He said if the Fulanis would only feed their cattle in the pen, as is the practice in most developed countries, they would make more money and produce healthier cattle for meat production in the country.

He said it is time for the Federal Government to launch a nationwide orientation programme that will encourage the construction of pen and the provision of hay across the country.

The Oluwo of Iwo, said all genuine Fulani leaders in the country, who want to be regarded as agents of peace, must learn to adopt modern methods of breeding animals, as in the final analysis, it is going to be cheaper.

He said once these methods are adopted, the Fulanis would invariably be meeting the international standard of cattle rearing, which does not give room for friction nor violence.

Oba Akanbi, said as a form of encouragement, the Federal Government, especially the Ministry of Agriculture, should henceforth design an agricultural programme that will enable Fulani world body or association, access huge loans that will enable them acquire large-scale land to build ranches, where they would have facilities like pen and hay for cattle breeding and dairy related production.

Oba Akanbi said he just cannot understand the reason(s) for the consistent clashes between native farmers and Fulani herdsmen, as animal rearing is another arm of farming. He said the best the Fulanis can do for themselves is to do a modernised herding and with time and consistency, they would be able to develop up to the standard obtainable in Europe.He said Fulani herdsmen and native can both help to promote the nation’s economy, if properly and professionally handled.

In this article:
Mahmuda Abubakar Madagali
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