Maiyetti Allah Leaders Embolden Prickly Fulani Herdsmen

0
Ring True
with Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521 (text only)

The reactions of the Maiyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria to the raging killings by Fulani herdsmen across the nation have been most disgraceful and irresponsible. Just recently in Taraba State, Maiyetti Allah members came out forcefully in Jalingo to protest against a proposed bill to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock, demanding the stoppage of action on the plan. They even stormed the state’s House of Assembly in Jalingo with arms, threatening everybody. I still can’t understand why anyone should continue to insist that nomadic cattle rearing must continue in this 21st century. Open grazing is an aberration in any modern society and Nigeria should not be an exception. Maiyetti Allah leaders are clearly unperturbed by the rampant killings and destruction of property across the nation as a result of persistent herdsmen and farmers’ clashes. This is obvious from the opposition of the group to state governments that introduced laws curbing open grazing.

I watched the Maiyetti Allah protest in Jalingo on television and I was so depressed. The utterances of the Maiyetti Allah leaders were provocative, disheartening and preposterous. I heard some of them saying that they have a right to roam anywhere with their cattle, settle anywhere and eat anything they liked. Reading the protest speech, the Chairman, Maiyetti Allah, Taraba State Chapter, Sahabi Tukur, said the bill against open grazing was inimical, ill-intended, discriminatory and a misplaced priority, adding that the association rejected the bill in its entirety. He also threatened that there would be breakdown of law and order in Taraba if the bill is passed into law. Tukur added: “Grazing, like any other occupation, is cultural which, in the case of Nigeria and Taraba State in particular, is carried out substantially by the Fulani people. There will be no red meat, no cow in the market and all butchers will boycott market activities for seven days should the House fail to listen to our demand.”
Haba! Why must Maiyetti Allah members continue to threaten everybody? Why must they continue to insist that nomadic cattle rearing should continue in this modern era? What about the rights of the farmers? I knew quite alright that we still have a large number of stone-age people in this country, but I did not know that it was this bad. The rascality of the Maiyetti Allah members must be curbed. The intentions of the Taraba State government are genuine. Governor Darius Ishaku wanted a lasting solution to the mayhem persistently created by the herdsmen. He is not just aiming to stop open rearing and grazing of livestock, Ishaku is also planning to help the herdsmen establish ranches. This will be facilitated by a proposed agency to be known as the Taraba State Livestock and Ranches Administration and Control Agency. Yet, Maiyetti Allah members have declared war on this governor and his bill. This is in spite of the fact that herdsmen and farmers’ clashes in Taraba State had claimed no fewer than 2,000 lives in the last few years. Fighting in Mambilla area of the state between the herdsmen and the Mambila farmers raged for several days last week, with dozens of people killed.
Maiyetti Allah supporters should sheath their swords and attend the impending public hearing on the Taraba Open Grazing Prohibition bill so that they can, together with other stakeholders, clear the grey areas and brainstorm on how to make the proposed law work. I believe that areas the Executive failed to capture in the bill would be addressed in the course of the deliberations. To say that they are totally opposed to the bill limiting cattle rearing to ranches is confrontational, inhuman and an affront to other people. These rampaging herdsmen must be told in very clear language that nomadic cattle rearing is an abnormality in any modern society. Cattle must be reared in ranches. This is the standard in sane societies.
Our law enforcements agents must be very firm in enforcing anti-open grazing laws in states that have passed them. Benue and Ekiti states have done very well in this regard. All other states should do same, accompanied with a very proactive arrangement for ranching. Government at all levels must send a very strong message to herdsmen that we are no longer living in a jungle. This persistent bloodshed by these herdsmen must be cogently stopped.
On the flip side, security agents must dig into the sources of arms of these killer herdsmen. In the last two years, it is common to see them roaming with AK-47 assault rifles. Some highly-placed Nigerians must have supplied these guns. Those responsible must be apprehended and punished according to the laws of our land. I am glad that the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, has joined the clamour for the probe of the source of herdsmen’s arms. The Sultan added: “Real herdsmen do not carry guns. They only move with their cows and sticks. Agreed, there are bad eggs among the Fulani, but those carrying arms and perpetrating heinous killings are not herdsmen. Those carrying arms are criminals and they should be treated as such. The government should therefore probe the sources of these weapons and take appropriate action; they should face the wrath of the law.”
As at press time, some killer herdsmen were hibernating at Ileyo village, Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State. They have destroyed crops and chased farmers away from the village. The kind of weapons they are wielding is frightening. Security agents in the state have failed to protect the hapless farmers of  Ileyo village. The herdsmen allegedly killed one Linus Ogbee who resisted the invasion of his farm. Because of their superior weapon, Ondo State policemen have been hesitant to intervene. Last week, the fear-struck villagers staged a protest along the Igbatoro-Akure Road. For how long must this country continue like this? For how long must herdsmen continue to shed the blood of innocent people because of their cattle? Things have just got to change.

Older People Should Retire Early to Reduce Unemployment
Older people should retire early to reduce youth unemployment. Yes, that was the advice of Pope Francis to the world on Wednesday as a strategy for reducing joblessness across the world. This theory should be applied in Nigeria because our dear nation is facing an unprecedented unemployment crisis. There is hardly any home without a youth seeking for job. Just look around you. Youth unemployment is a time bomb waiting to explode in our country. As a first step, I am suggesting that retirement age in ministries, departments and agencies (at all government levels)should be slashed to 55 years or a maximum of 25 years in service, whichever one comes first. There should be a massive clear-out of those that have attained this age with immediate effect. Of course, our medical doctors, nurses and teachers should be exempted. Just as Pope Francis in the renewed call for social justice said, “Older people should be made to work less or retire early to create employment for younger generations. He added: “There is urgency for a new human social pact, a new social pact for work that should reduce working hours for those at the end of their working lives, to create work for the young, who have a right and a duty to work. A society that forces old people to work for too long and forces an entire generation of young people not to work is stupid and short-sighted.” This is food for thought for all of us today.

Water Challenge in Bauchi State
Households in Bauchi State are going through hell due to inadequate public water supply. The last few months have been harrowing, with many areas in the Bauchi metropolis going without water for days. An estimated 95 per cent of the inhabitants of this state lack access to public water supply. The rich dig boreholes while many others who can’t afford this, source for water from so many unhealthy sources. The water crisis in this state has been on for years. Many thought things would change with the emergence of Mohammed Abubakar as governor. Unfortunately, the water crisis moved from bad to worse. Governor Abubakar has in the last two years failed to improve public water in this state. In fact, he has not shown any seriousness about tackling the problem. It is heart-warming that the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu has joined the team putting pressure on Governor Abubakar to decisively tackle the water supply crisis. The Emir, during his Sallah visit to Abubakar last week appealed to him to look into the acute water scarcity encumbering residents of Bauchi metropolis. He noted that the acute water shortage had defied successive administrations in the state. I sincerely hope that this governor will act appropriately. He has less than two years to make an impact. History will not forgive him if he leaves the Bauchi Government House without making any positive impact on water supply in the state.

What’s Governor Obaseki Doing with 246 Assistants?
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo has added 192 special assistants and 54 senior special assistants to the already bloated wage bill of the government. He said these 246 appointees would serve as representatives of the government at the grassroots. Conservatively, Obaseki would spend about N1 billion of taxpayers’ money annually to take care of these absolutely unnecessary appointees. This is just jobs for the boys. I really can’t fathom why this should be taking place in a state with huge pension arrears. Some Edo State departments and agencies also have backlog of unpaid salaries. Why this profligacy, amidst financial challenges? I thought Obaseki would represent something different. I never knew that he would continue in the ways of his godfather, Adams Oshiomhole. At a point, Oshiomhole had almost 1000 assistants. My dear Obaseki, let good projects represent you all over Edo State. Give more people access to public water supply, quality healthcare, quality education in public schools and good roads. This is the only genuine way to ensure that he is represented all over the state.