Nigeria is not the only country where pastoralists come and go. In Kenya, they have the Maasai herdsmen who have been herding cattle around the Nile Valley area from the days of Joseph in ancient Egypt. Other nations have their own form of pastoralists too. But never in the history of the 20th and 21st Century has the world encountered a scenario such as that which stares Nigeria in the face, whereby Fulani herdsmen simultaneously and nationally and almost systematically are wiping out indigenous Nigerians for the benefit of their cattle.
I challenge my readers to take the time to do a Google search and collate the number of reported casualties from unprovoked Fulani attacks on innocent, unarmed Nigerians in 2016 alone. The results will shock you! I will not throw out a number in order not to give my political foes fodder to use against me in a case of incitement, but please carry out even a cursory research on the matter.
And what has been the response of the Nigerian Government? I was shocked to read the reaction of Nigeria’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Lt. General Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd.), who blamed social media users for exacerbating these attacks!
So what are we to do when we become aware that Fulani herdsmen are accused of killing, raping and maiming Nigerians? Are we to keep quiet in the national interest? Excuse me, but I thought the national interest was the interests of human beings rather than the interest of cattle!
And then President Muhammadu Buhari from faraway China, rightly goes ahead to issue a lethal warning to pipeline vandals: desist from your actions or else be dealt with as I dealt with Boko Haram!
Yet this same tough talking president does not have similar words for Fulani herdsmen? Mr. President, how many Nigerians have to die before you give Fulani herdsmen the ‘Boko Haram’ treatment?
President Buhari must be willing to suspend the fact that he is himself a Fulani by ethnicity and remember what he has been preaching to us since he first forced his way into our national consciousness after his coup against President Shehu Shagari in 1983.
I can never forget when the then military head of state, Major General Buhari said: “This generation of Nigerians and indeed the future generation have no country other than Nigeria, we shall stay and salvage it together.”
Indeed, the president must remember that he wanted us to stay and salvage Nigeria together and not stay and be savaged in Nigeria by Fulani herdsmen!
And the absolute worst part of this story is the attempt by some legislators to add salt to injury and injustice by floating a so called National Grazing Commission Bill to compulsorily acquire large swathes of Nigerian land and give them to the commission for the benefit of Fulani herdsmen.
In fact, it makes better sense to establish a Victim Support Commission for the many thousands of victims of Fulani herdsmen than it does to set up a National Grazing Commission.
Honestly, I do not understand the idea behind this bill. The legislators sponsoring this bill are asking Nigeria to change her land tenure system to fit nomads who may or may not be Nigerian citizens. Has the world gone mad?
Nigeria should not change to fit Fulani herdsmen, instead it is Fulani herdsmen that should change to fit Nigeria.
The Grazing Commission Bill is an insult to all the victims of the herdsmen. Peace can only be achieved if those who want to herd cattle set up ranches as is done everywhere else in the world.
The cattle herding business is a private enterprise. It should not be the business of the government to use public land and public funds to promote the group interest of Fulani herdsmen.
Let me assure any federal legislator that it is foolhardy enough to support this bill that senators and House of Representatives members from states where Fulani herdsmen have killed innocent Nigerians should forget their reelection if they support the Grazing Commission Bill.
In fact, they should be ashamed of themselves that they sat in a National Assembly where the Lagos-Calabar rail was not provided for and watched as the Grazing Commission Bill got to second reading.
Instead of passing laws to protect victims of genocide they want to pass laws to protect those who commit genocide. Talk about Stockholm syndrome!
I am tempted to ask if this is the Federal Republic of Nigeria or the Federal Republic of Fulani Herdsmen with Nigerians as second class citizens? Hardworking, tax-paying Nigerian citizens do not have land to build houses yet the backers of this repugnant bill want to give free land to Fulani herdsmen?
But should I or anybody reading this really blame the sponsors of this bill? Shouldn’t the blame rightly be on all of us collectively when we keep silent while our brothers die because of political ambition and fear of persecution?
What did Jesus say in Matthew 10:28? “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
I’m Reno Omokri, if anybody likes let them come and arrest me for saying the truth. I would rather live the rest of my life in a dungeon than fold my hands and do nothing while my fellow Nigerians are being killed so that cattle may live.
*Omokri is the host of Transformation with Reno Omokri