Sunday Musings: On the Matter of Farmer-Herdsmen Clashes in Ekiti State

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*Sunday Musings:  On the Matter of Farmer-Herdsmen Clashes in Ekiti State*

My People:

I wish to  make a few observations, comments and suggestions on this vexing matter.

1.  Not all criminals in Ekiti State are Fulani.  Not all Fulani are criminals.  Not all Fulani are herdsmen.  Not all herdsmen are criminals.  Not all herdsmen are Fulani.  No criminal is desirable in society, Fulani of not herdsman or not.  These six maxims are irrefutable.

2.  The identity of all Ekiti citizens, down to the ward level, must be ascertained and documented.  This has both planning and security advantages.  The ongoing NIN registration may be such an opportunity, with ancillary state action.  This way, nobody will say that we are asking for documentation of just one ethnic group and not of another. We can claim thereby equal treatment and protection under the law.

3.  There are  about  sixteen (16) Local Government Areas LGAs,  one-hundred and thirty one (131) towns with crowned Kabiyesis of different grades A, B and C, and maybe three-hundred and thirty (330) Communities with known community leaders in Ekiti State.  Those entities that border other states, and particularly that border the North where herdsmen enter, should be given special attention.

4.  There are ten Forest Reserves in Ekiti State.  Those towns and communities in and around them should be identified and given special attention.

5.  All the Serikis/Sarkis of Hausa and Fulani  citizens in the communities in question  must be identified and tasked to ensure obedience to the law and restriction to influx of unknown and undocumented persons.  In the time being, the granting of traditional Seriki titles as part of our Yoruba chietaincy tradition must stop.

6.  Our Muslim Yoruba citizens must decide whether the Umma principle of brotherhood  is greater that the collective security of our Yoruba  citizenry.  Similarly, the Kabiyesis, top politicians/society bigwigs and government functionaries who are said to own large heads of  cattle,  and who use these herdsmen to herd and  multiply and secure their investments must measure their financial livelihoods against our threatened lives.

7.  We must enforce:

    i.  Our anti-trespass laws;
   ii.  Our anti-homicide laws;
  iii.  Our anti-thievery laws;
   iv.  Our open and unlicensed arms-carrying laws;
    v.  Our traffic obstruction laws.

It really does not matter whether it is Fulani or not rampaging our farms, eating our crops or raping and murdering our people.  Laws already exist, and so  we must de-ethnicize and de-mystify trade,  publicize these laws, prosecute offenders and publicize the guilty verdicts.

8.  Ekiti State must fully operationalize Community Policing, of which the newly-established Amotekun Security Network is but one example. Spotty security coverage and  enforcement compromise (bribery, ethnic favoritism and tip-offs, etc) are rife with our current dependence on Abuja-controlled national police, army and other security forces

Now, I also know that there are two tendencies that cloud all of these discussions:

1.  The political opposition – particularly the ardent anti-Buharists –  who want to portray the ruling political party as incompetent and even complicit.  Buhari’s aides do not help matters by their rushed side-taking interventions.

2.  The Separatists – the “A-fe-pin’, Oodua Nation enthusiasts-  who act as agent-provocateurs –  egged on episodically by pro-Biafrans –  and who want to hype the matter so as to speed up the dissolution of the “marriage of inconvenience that Nigeria’s mere geographical expression is” (mixed quote solely mine please!)

Both tendencies are not helpful, but to the extent that they exist, cannot be ignored.

Finally, there are two other over-arching issues which have to be tackled over  the points above:

1.  Sensitization about and financial incentivization  with respect to modern animal husbandry.  This puts the modernists of ranching against  the traditionalists of itinerant grazing. The victims of farm destruction, rape, murder and land grabbing must make a forceful case for cattle ranching and set some examples in our region.  We must convince the traditionalists about the modern practice  and make their traditional practice less profitable until they give it up.

2.  Suspicion that the itinerant hersdmen are seeking not just pasture, but rather that that  is a mere foil for  territorial hegemonic political agenda.  In that case,  the targets  must say it loud and clear that they know the real agenda  – land grabbing hegemony – and use the force of law to prevent this, and cause the would-be hegemonists maximum penal pain.

There you have it for now.

Bolaji Aluko
January 24, 2021

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