Nigeria: Herders’ Crisis – Northern Governors Must Act

THE admission, at last, by the Northern States Governors’ Forum that open grazing has become “unsustainable” is long overdue but welcome. The question now is whether these governors who manage the states where the Nigerians among the livestock herdsmen hail from are now willing to go beyond rhetoric and take necessary actions? Are they ready to take responsibility and save the country?

The Northern establishment, leadership and elite must take full responsibility for the continued existence of nomadic lifestyle among the Fulani ethnic group.

This ancient and outdated way of life leads the livestock herders to wander far away from their homes and roam the farmlands and forests of indigenous people in other parts of the country.

But because these herders did not pose any danger to anyone they were tolerated, even accepted. But since they started carrying assault weapons, destroying people’s farms, settling down with impunity on people’s lands without permission, even laying claims to “ownership” of other people’s ancestral patrimonies, raping, kidnapping and killing at will, they have now been served with notices to quit the forests in several parts of the country.

Because of the refusal of law enforcement agents to treat them as the criminals that they are, many groups have now resorted to self-help to protect themselves.

Let us make it abundantly clear that no ethnic group has been given “quit notice” in any part of the country, especially the South. It is the illegal occupants of the forests, the armed criminals masquerading as herdsmen that have been told to quit. Other law-abiding citizens living peacefully among fellow Nigerians are not affected. It is blackmail and mischief to impute that there might be “reprisals” for asking armed criminals to leave the forests.