Registration Of Herdsmen
WITH the high rate of insecurity in the country including kidnapping, armed robbery, cattle rustling, as well as the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast, the decision by the leadership of the Fulani community in the Southwest to register their herdsmen to ensure effective monitoring of their activities is commendable. Lack of data and absence of proper identification is a major problem in Nigeria, which has helped criminality to fester without restraint and made planning even for good impossible.
Rather than being seen as some kind of ethnic profiling, the registration should be encouraged as it would help in identifying who is who amongst the herdsmen and prevent a situation where a group of people is branded criminals because of the activities of a few members.
Although, Miyetti Allah, the agro-business and Socio-Cultural Association, has kicked against the plan to register herdsmen in the Southwest on the ground that it would “set a dangerous precedence” and hinder the peace in the country, it needs to be emphasised that there is nothing wrong with any group in Nigeria keeping a database of its members especially if that would help stem criminality and even promote better business relations.
Since the Federal Government has not been able to adequately register many Nigerians for the purposes of proper identification, a successful registration of herdsmen might introduce a new dimension for other groups to emulate.
The ultimate goal is to achieve lasting cordial relationship among all Nigerians. There is no doubt that criminality has become a menace in Nigeria, which the recent kidnap of elder statesman, Olu Falae, has reinforced. That is why whatever needs to be done to avert the explosion of a ticking time bomb should be encouraged.
The leadership of the group had risen from an emergency meeting in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, where members resolved to embark on compulsory registration of all herdsmen and their animals operating in the zone.
This followed the recent kidnap of Chief Olu Falae, a former presidential candidate and Secretary to the Government of the Federation by suspected Fulani herdsmen and other complaints by many farmers that the herdsmen have become a menace threatening their livelihood. The registration is indeed necessary as it would ensure identification and monitoring, which in turn would help to bring peace and harmonious co-existence between the herdsmen and their host communities. It is also impressive that the initiative has come from the leaders of the herdsmen.
Addressing reporters on the resolutions, Alhaji Maiyasin, who doubles as the Sarkin Sasa of Ibadan called for cooperation of the host communities with the Fulani leadership to effectively implement the proposed registration exercise.
He reiterated that co-habitation between the Fulani and Yoruba in the Southwest has always been peaceful and appealed to the leaders to always preach peace and not war. It is important to stress that the quest for peace is not an ethnic issue and the abduction of Chief Olu Falae was one of many that the nation has so far endured in all parts of the country.
To create peace and harmony requires proper conflict management methods and a deep understanding of the sociological realities of different peoples. Above all, a responsible leadership must quickly intervene and reduce tension before it gets out of hand.
There has always been problems between the host communities and Fulani herdsmen in all of the southern part of Nigeria where cattle have destroyed large farmlands. The conflicts therefrom have been very violent and prolonged. And this cannot be allowed to fester any longer.
Nigeria needs peace. There are already several flash points of insecurity in the Northeast, Niger Delta and the Middle Belt, such that the nation cannot afford to have another source of insecurity in the Southwest. President Muhammadu Buhari indeed has a responsibility to intervene and nip the problem in the bud before it escalates. Both cattle rearing and farming are businesses that should be of benefit to the nation. There should, therefore, be a proper structure to manage both without one destroying the other.
There are modern methods of rearing animals, which is to have them in ranches and authorities at all levels should create ranches and grazing reserves. That way, conflicts would be reduced and the economic benefits of agriculture would be maximised.