Grazing Reserve, Cattle Colony, Take Over of River Banks and RUGA Settlement

Muhammadu Buhari

By Sir Don Ubani

In this age of global modernization, scientific and technological development, is it not absolutely painful and worrisome that a federal government supposedly elected for a second term has spent one full month of its span with nothing to canvas, except only cow related issues?

As early as when independent Nigeria was only about 12 days, suspicion and fear had crept into the body polity of the country. On October 12, 1960, the late Premier of defunct Northern Nigeria; Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, granted an interview to a foreign journalist, during which he said that ‘the new independent nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather; Usman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent change of power. We use the minorities of the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to rule over their future’. This statement was reported by Parrot Newspaper of October 12, 1960.

It has to be recalled that while the struggle for independence was going on and almost entirely championed by Nigerian leaders of Southern extraction, West African Students in the United Kingdom had, on the platform of West African Students’ Union (WASU), written to the Council of Northern Chiefs to unite with their Southern counterparts in the struggle for independence of the country. Ironically in their response, the Chiefs said that there cannot be unity except their religion; Islam, would be adopted as the country’s official religion. Their stand was reported on page 51 of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s ‘Path to Nigeria’s Freedom’ and published by Faber and Faber, London, in 1947.

There is substantial evidence that the Fulani in Nigeria, not minding the fact that they migrated to the country many centuries after the indigenous peoples of Nigeria had long settled in their respective geographical areas, have been driven by a mindset of conquering the indigenous ethnic nationalities of Nigeria and dispossessing them of their land and inheritance. They had succeeded in conquering and dethroning the royal dynasties of the Hausa kingdoms.

It is equally important to recollect the boast by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello in 1957 that the North would continue to conquer the South after the British would have left and that he would personally deep the Koran into the Atlantic Ocean.

This inordinate ambition is still propelling the Fulani, even as Nigeria is almost 59 years old, encouraged the federal government of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, with strong backing of Alhaji Bello who was the leader of Northern Peoples Congress, to give unholy support to Chief Samuel Akintola who had engaged in violent leadership tussle with his former boss and Premier of defunct Western Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, turbulence that became known as ‘Wild West’ and looking the other way as hundreds were killed in what was ingloriously termed ‘Operation Wetie’.

The Fulani-led government of Nigeria under Sir Abubakar, saw in Chief Akintola a willing tool to help the Fulani realize its ambition to conquer the South and eventually deep the Koran into the Atlantic ocean. As a bid to humiliate the Yoruba nation of the South of Nigeria, the leader of the Yoruba nation; Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was imprisoned on the insistence of the Fulani.

It was the devastating crisis in the Western region, as deliberately fueled by the Fulani, that triggered off the January 15, 1966 military coup in Nigeria, led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu.

Between the said 1966, passing through the various military administrations that held sway in Nigeria and May 29, 2015 when General Muhammadu Buhari was elected President of the country, history has it that many things happened that were capable of shaking the corporate existence of Nigeria.

Today, the greatest danger that confronts Nigeria is the shocking determination of the Buhari All Progressives Congress (APC) federal government to impose the Fulani on the various ethnic nations of Nigeria. This is in deadly pursuit of the two pronouncements that had been attributed to the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello.

When President Buhari was first elected, he proposed and sent an Executive Bill on ‘Grazing Reserves’ to the National Assembly. The aim of that bill was for government to hoodwink indigenous land owners in Nigeria to relinquish their ancestral lands to the Fulani for the rearing and grazing of their cattle.

Despite all manner of intimidation by the Buhari government, the National Assembly, under the visionary and focused leadership of the dynamic duo of Dr. Bukola Saraki and Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara; President of the Senate and Speaker of House of Representatives, respectively, threw the bill to its deserved destination, the trash can.

Not done with the urge to hide under any affordable cover to force Fulani on the indigenous peoples of Nigeria, President Buhari sent a bill to concentrate the control of water resources, specifically and suspiciously including River banks, in the hands of the federal government. The trick in the said bill was to deceive riverine peoples of Nigeria so that the federal government could unilaterally allocate river banks to Fulani herdsmen, in total deprivation of the original owners of the land.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), then led by Senator Godswill Akpabio in the Senate and some other senators from the South of Nigeria must be applauded for boldly, brilliantly and successfully standing against that deceit.

With the newly elected National Assembly, headed by Senator Ahmed Lawan as President of the Senate and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker of the House of Representatives, a combined leadership which was insisted upon by President Buhari and the leadership of APC, it is not improbable that this bill would be sent back to the National Assembly.

Contrary to Land Act Decree of March 1978, which vested all urban lands in each state of the federation on state governors and non-urban lands on local government chairmen, the federal government has currently, through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, unlawfully and humiliatingly embarked on what it calls RUGA Settlement.

The RUGA Settlement drive of the Buhari government is another frontal and insensitive step by his administration to impose his Fulani kinsmen on the indigenous people of Middle-belt, South-east, South-south and South-west.

RUGA is a Fulani adjective, which synonym is fast. It, therefore, means a fast settlement.

By the desire of President Buhari, the federal government intends to use Nigeria’s tax payers’ money to establish six Fulani colonies in each of the 36 states of the federation, plus six in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, making a total of 222.

In the very unlikely event of this forceful imposition being realized by the Buhari government, it would mean that apart from the areas in the North of Nigeria subdued and taken over by the Fulani, President Buhari, in line with the pronouncements, threats and boasts of Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, would have seamlessly and craftily created 222 new and additional emirates for the Fulani in Nigeria, forcefully using other peoples’ ancestral land. May be, after some time, they would be asking for creation of state constituencies for them in each of the 222 colonies. How else can a Fulani man advance a Fulanization and Islamization agenda, as had been alleged by former President Olusegun Obasanjo?

It has to be emphatically stated here that cattle rearing is merely a private business embarked upon by the Fulani. Other tribes have their own peculiar businesses. The Igbo are into various businesses, ranging from motor spare parts, pharmaceuticals, textile, palm produce and transportation. They even pay heavy taxes to both the state and federal governments on the businesses they do. It is from businesses carried by the Igbo that many state governments generate their internal revenues and, thereby, enriching Value Added Taxes that eventually accrue to both the federal and state governments. The same applies to the Yoruba, Hausa, Ijaw, Effik, Ibibio, Urhobo and many other ethnic nationalities.

No Federal Government in Nigeria had ever openly come out with a policy of formally creating and funding settlements for the businesses of any particular ethnic group in the country.

What President Buhari is currently doing is a glaring undemocratic, illegal, destructive and most unacceptable pursuit of Fulanization and Islamization.

Nigeria is a secular country. Forcing Islam on Christians in the country, through Fulanization, is unconstitutional and runs counter to the principle of multi-ethnic federalism.

Since the emergence of President Buhari, his fellow Fulani kinsmen, under the umbrella of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and using their terrorist gang, Fulani herdsmen, have brutally murdered many thousands of Christian farmers in the Middle-belt, South-east, South-south and South-west regions.

The government of President Buhari, knowing that the criminal perpetrators are his kinsmen on a mission to sequestrate other peoples’ ancestral land, none of the murderous invaders has ever been arrested. The worst form of deliberate official insensitivity from the Buhari Presidency has been his inhuman labelling of orchestrated Fulani herdsmen’s invasion and heartless brutality on Christian farmers in the Middle-belt, up to Taraba, as ‘farmers/herders’ conflict. For goodness sake, this is no conflict between farmers and herders. It is basically a well-coordinated aggression of very brutal dimension perpetrated by the Fulani against original owners of the land where the invasion has been going on.

The APC federal government of President Buhari has made no attempt to hide its support for Fulanization and Islamization. It was widely reported that the government, using a high-powered delegation, had discussed with MACBAN, not long ago in Birnin-Kebbi, capital of Kebbi State and purportedly promised to dole out the sum of N100 bullion to the association, something that has never been done for any other association in Nigeria.

The federal government of President Buhari equally went ahead to announce that it would establish a Radio Station with a very high frequency for listening and use by the Fulani alone, as the station will transmit only in Fulfude language of the Fulani.

To make the conquest of the indigenous ethnic nationalities easy and unchallenged, President Buhari has issued an executive order dictating that Nigerians should surrender their licensed guns to the Nigerian Police. Yet, no attempt will ever be made to disarm Fulani herdsmen and jihadists.

Nigeria, under President Buhari, is dangerously sitting on a very explosive cake of gunpowder. Even though the national security agencies are controlled by the Fulani, the indigenous people of Nigeria, majority of who are Christians, when pushed to the wall, will resist this ambitious territorial adventurism of the Fulani.

Already the five governors of the South-east of Nigeria have pronounced a capital ‘NO’ to Buhari’s RUGA Settlement proposal. Though the governors of South-west could not muster the required courage to reject the policy, it is heartwarming that the Yoruba cultural organization, Afenifere, has boldly rejected RUGA and whatever it stands for.

There are two solutions to this problem. The first is that MACBAN should embrace modern method of breeding and rearing cattle. What they are doing is business. They must invest to develop their business. That means they have to buy land and develop ranches for their cattle. Land is a very important factor in considering setting up a business enterprise. No reasonable person thinks of using another person’s land to open a business.

The second and far-reaching solution to this Fulanization problem being unjustly pushed into our national narrative is restructuring of the Nigerian federation. Nigeria should be returned to where it was, by virtue of 1963 Republican constitution, before the Military struck on January 15, 1966. Except we restructure and fast too, Nigeria will continue to wobble, till her uncertain end.

*Ubani is a former Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Abia State