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Nigeria’s Cattle Battles Being Fought Across Regional Belts And Party Lines: But The Grounds Are In The Agrarian South, Fertile North Central

The Oasis Reporters

May 26, 2021






A newspaper report says that President Muhammadu Buhari has frowned at the decision of the Southern Governors Forum to ban open grazing in the densely populated agrarian southern region. After all it is the constitutional right of the largely Fulani herdsmen to stroll in from the northern region with their retinue of large bodied and numerous cows to further afflict the south as they have currently destabilized the Middle Belt with sorrows, tears and blood.


Conflict between nomadic herders, usually from the north, and local farmers, both in the north and south, caused by open grazing has led to the death of hundreds of people and displacement of thousands from their local communities.
The governors two weeks ago resolved to ban the open grazing of cattle across the region due to security and safety concerns.


In an uncommon move and solidarity, southern governors across party lines have held their line against open grazing, largely perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen who come from northern region and at times from the West African sahelian region.


They noted with concern the incursion of armed herders and criminal bandits into the south, escalating insecurity that has hampered citizens from living their normal lives.


The tweet made by Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC party practically opposes what Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, in a statement on Monday, May 24, 2021 said. Mallam Garba Shehu had announced that the ban is “of questionable legality, as it purportedly violates the constitutional rights of Nigerians to freedom”.


Soft words indeed from the spokesman, which belies the drawn knives and rifle fire between the herdsmen of largely Fulani origin who want to fight for the retention of the anachronistic system that has been abandoned centuries ago by European or Indian cattle rearers that produce much more in billions of dollars without the deadly disruptions Nigerian herders bring to the polity.


The Presidency’s position agrees with that of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, who said the governors would first have to change the constitution.


Shehu said the governors’ decision offered no solution to the agelong crisis that has assumed ethnic dimensions over the years and has fueled more talks of secession.

In other words, Garba Shehu expects solutions from southern governors who have little or nothing to do with cattle rearing business.


It is obvious that the Fulani tribesmen who engage in the business do not have any intention of shifting ground and changing their business lifestyle along international best practices models.

He said, “The citizens of the southern states – indeed citizens of all states of Nigeria – have a right to expect their elected leaders and representatives to find answers to challenges of governance and rights, and not to wash their hands off hard choices by, instead, issuing bans that say: ‘not in my state’.”


The aide noted that no one is more worried about the crisis than the president whom he said has expressed a strong resolve to address it in a sustained and lasting manner, and provide a permanent solution.


He said President Buhari has approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves in the states that are willing to participate.



The answers are staring everyone in the face. Yet rigidity and closeness to guns of power is blindfolding the beneficiaries of the business to change model and practice profitably. Let human beings stay alive first before they can eat beef. The dead do not buy cows. Safety and security for all should be a watchword.


Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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