Open grazing Ban: 17 Southern states will be treated like Benue, says Fulani group
By Aliu Badejo
A pan-Fulani group, the Gan Allah Fulani Development Association (GAFDAN), will resist any attempt by the Southern Governors to ban open grazing.
The group said if the Southern States continue with the September deadline ban, the 17 States will be treated like Benue State.
The group said it has set up a Fulani Intelligence Squad to work with security operatives to fish out bad eggs saying that was part of the plan to ensure open grazing works without conflict.
The National Secretary, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi, said the Southern Governors Forum failed to weigh the implication of the ban.
Abdullahi sent strong warnings to the 17 states to desist or face the Benue treatment.
He said the ban will cost South the Presidency in 2023.
Abdullahi said “You don’t just play politics. Some people want power to return to their region and they believe that the only way to go about it is to intimidate others. You want power to return to the South and you are driving people, about 17 million voters (Fulani), away. This step will definitely jeopardise the chances of the South to produce the next president come 2023.”
He said further in a chat with Tribune on Saturday that the position of the 17 Governors will be counter productive because you “don’t stop a system unless you have provided an alternative to it. We are not against any new method of animal husbandry because we believe that the present system is outdated but then you don’t stop it overnight without providing alternative. So, the position of the governors is practically impossible under the present setup in Nigeria.
According to the group “The statement of the governors is more political than realistic. It is unfortunate that people can play politics with the livelihood of millions of Nigerians. If you stop open grazing in the South, you are simply saying that those people should move to the North or they should move to other parts of the country. What happens if those in the North also ask the Southerners to leave?
The Fulani group said further “Are we promoting unity or hatred? What the governors are saying is practically impossible and it does not promote the unity of this country.”
He cited the example of Benue State saying the state had not experienced peace since the state banned open grazing. He said the ban displaced many Fulani herdsmen
He said peace will be impossible in the 17 states with the September deadline issue by the 17 states against open grazing.
“You don’t stop people’s means of living and expect peace to reign. So, the implication is that the unity of Nigeria is going to be in question. You don’t expect those that will be affected to return to the North and live in peace with people from the South living in the North. It is double standard.
“It is a call for anarchy. If the governors had provided alternative and set aside an area to practise ranching, it would have been better. The present situation does not favour herders themselves and then for you to start a thing without providing alternative is wrong. This is a call for anarchy,” he noted.
GAFDAN said there are herders involved in legitimate business.
He said the squad had since been working with security agencies to fish out bad eggs within their ranks and make them to face the wrath of the law. To arrest violence and killings, Alhaji Abdullahi urged the federal and state governments to resuscitate the over 400 abandoned grazing reserves in the country, particularly in the North, gazette and develop them to eliminate conflicts between pastoralists and farmers over grazing lands.
He equally charged different cattle breeders and farmer associations in the country to embark on sensitisation of their members on the need for peaceful co-existence and to accommodate their differences and realise that those who tend to cow must be of age.
He said: “The southern governors need to reconsider their position. It is not possible and it is not feasible. If you frustrate their business and force them to flee back to the North then expect the same treatment from the North also. I think this is not helpful for the unity of this country. I would rather advise them to embrace dialogue.”
Alhaji Abdullahi urged the governors to sit down with critical stakeholders and devise a means to flush out the bad eggs and their collaborators.
“There is the need for dialogue. We also need to engage one another to arrive at an amicable middle ground. It is wrong to enact a law without consulting those concerned. If it is well intended, I think it should be discussed,” he said.