Herdsmen are predominantly Fulani nomads who’s primary occupation is to raise livestock.
The herdsmen are largely located in the Sahel and semi-arid parts of West Africa, but as a result of relatively recent changes in climate patterns, many herdsmen have moved further south into the savannah and tropical forest belt of West Africa.
They are found in countries like Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and Cameroon.
While growing up as a child in my village then it was common to see some of them grazing with their cattle around our environment.
They were peaceful and friendly. They could enquire from the locals the roads to safer and harmless grazing parts and streams.
Recently however, there is a twist in events as the herdsmen are now found to be violent especially within middle belt and the southern part of Nigeria.
It is estimated that about 10,000 people have been killed between 2014 and 2020 by the herdsmen who are now seen as one of the deadliest groups around the world today.
While the Federal government of Nigeria attributes the killings to mere herders- Farmers clashes, many Nigerians and around the world have read religious and political meanings to the act.
Most communities along the herdsmen’s grazing parts live in perpetual fear, imagining when the owners of the land(herdsmen) will invade to take over.
An attempt by Federal Government of Nigeria to implement Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlement plan to appease the Fulani herdsmen was widely criticized and opposed by many even within the National Assembly.
These days, seeing herdsmen around any neigbourhood creates palpable fear and tension among the residents.
While travelling home with my entire
family , we were almost attacked by them along Ijebu Ode (Lagos Ore) express
way in a broad day light in 2017. Only God helped our bus to escape amidst mass
shooting by the criminal group.
The issue with herdsmen attack is that while some people view their activities with serious disdain, others see it as normal. No wonder they popular adage that says “he that wears the show knows where it pinches”
If it hasn’t happened to you or someone close to you, it may not mean any horror to you that is the implication when many supporters of the ruling political party insist the issues is just a minor disagreement between Farmers and herders.
For example, Miyetti Allah who happens to be the umbrella body of the Fulani herdsmen insists herdsmen are right by protecting their cows through any means.
They have gone ahead to threaten that should Government be stopped from implementing the RUGA settlement plan, what the country is currently witnessing from the herdsmen is just a tip of the iceberg.
The question is how will cows be more valuable than human lives? Because from the Federal Governments’ body language, the cows are now kings while citizens become like domesticated animals that can be slaughtered at will and in the slightest provocation with no repercussion.
This question and many are begging for answers.
However, the way forward on this matter is for the Governments at all level especially the Government at the center to gather the political will and determine to put an end to such callousness and secure the lives and property of its citizen by looking realistically into the issue with the intention of resolving genuinely.
If you have a contrary opinion to what this writers has penned down, feel free to drop us a comment below so we could also learn.