The recent abduction of one of the foremost Yoruba leaders and ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, by suspected Fulani herdsmen recently took a turn for the worse when some Yoruba leaders threatened secession from the entity called Nigeria.
Their grouse ranges from the abduction of Falae and the wanton destruction of his farmland to the need for a serious restructuring of Nigeria to reflect true federalism.
“If we do not see any step in this direction within a reasonable time, the Yoruba may reconsider their place in a union that cannot protect them and would not allow them to protect themselves and use all legitimate and peaceful means to attain self-determination,” part of the communiqué issued at the end of the meetings said.
But a former Governor of Kano State who is presently a Senator, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, asked the leaders to ‘shut up’ on their secession threat.
Kwankwaso said the call by these elders was misguided and politically motivated stressing that no zone can be an island on its own, just as he remarked that what the Fulani herdsmen that were being asked to leave Yorubaland needed was education on how to go about their cattle rearing business.
He spoke in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital over the weekend as a special guest of honour at the silver jubilee celebration of the set of 1965-71 of Government College, Ibadan, where Vitafoam Nigeria Plc. formally donated two sets of pre-fabricated Staff Quarters buildings to the institution.
According to him, “The issue of conflict between the farmers and Fulani herdsmen is not common to the South-west. It is not even common to Nigeria. It is all over the sub-region. On the issue that we are talking about, education is very important. If all Fulani are given opportunity to go to school, I don’t think they will risk their lives and their animals, going into the bush, where there are reptiles. I think the key thing is education.
These Fulanis should be educated.
“I am Fulani. My parents settled down many years ago. My father went to school and I have been to school. My children have gone to school. Now, I don’t think I will take cattle and go into a forest; that is education for you.
“The key thing is, whether in the North or Africa, Fulanis are all over. They call themselves Fulani in this part of the world, but in other places, they call them different names. So, education is key. These Fulani people should be educated. They should be settled. Of course, by that they will develop the modern way of keeping livestock.
“If you go to developed countries, you don’t see animals running about. It has to do with underdevelopment. If you go to Niger, Chad, Cameroun and all these places, they have Fulanis roaming about, endangering their lives, endangering their own animals and it is not good for anybody, the economy and the security. But that is for the future.
“But for today, I think it is important for government to provide facilities because we require their services. Facilities like grazing areas for the cattle and other facilities to make sure that we manage the situation.
“In the North, we used to have all these grazing areas. We used to have cattle ranch, where they go from place to place without going into the farm. Probably because of the population now, and other issues all these places are being taking by farmers. Therefore, it becomes very difficult for any cattle to roam or go to places without going into farms.
“So, it is not only peculiar to the South-west. We just need to have a lot of understanding of the situation. Some of the issues being raised by the people, especially politicians, do not help anybody. If you sack the Fulani from here or you fight them, maybe it is because you are here. If you are a Yoruba man based in Kano, I don’t think you can contemplate sacking the Fulani.
“I am from Kano, but right now I am in Ibadan. Where you are is your home. Today, Ibadan is my home. God forbids, if something bad happens here, it will affect me. If it happens in my village, I am not there, they won’t see me. But for today, I think it is important for government to provide ranching facilities such as grazing sites, because we require their services. It now calls for understanding among Nigerians. To that extent, therefore, politicians should stop overblowing the issue.”
To put a halt to the recurring Fulani herdsmen conflict with the farmers in their host communities, education is key, education is very important. All Fulani should be given opportunity to go to school. These Fulani should be educated. I am one of them. I am Fulani. Had I not been educated, I imagine what I would have been today; I probably would have been in the forest.
He also canvassed a quick return of boarding facilities to all public schools in the country as well as compulsory education for the Fulanis saying this will go a long way in reawakening confidence in the polity.
Early this year, a mother of three, Mrs Ayesi Balogun, was allegedly raped and killed by some Fulani herdsmen at Asa village, in the Oja Odan area,Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State. The victim was said to have been killed after being raped on her farm.
Balogun’s case brought to 25, the number of innocent and poor people, who had been sent to their early graves in agonising and dehumanising circumstances by Fulanis herdsmen.
Additional reporting by ThisdayLive
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