By Franklyn Isong
In its response to the many public outcries and criticisms trailing the criminal killings, pogroms and genocide perpetrated daily by Fulani herdsmen, the federal government through the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, last week, said that the Muhammadu Buhari led government proposed to establish cattle colonies in states of the federation to quickly curb the incessant bloody clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
The Minister explained that; “Cattle colony is not using herdsmen to colonise any state. It is going to be done in partnership with state governments that will like to volunteer land for it. The Federal Government will fund the project and those wishing to benefit from it will pay some fees.
“While ranching is more of an individual venture for the herdsmen and those wishing to invest in the livestock sector, cattle colonies is a larger project where up to 40 ranchers can share same facility that will be provided by the government at a reduced rate. Already, 16 states have volunteered land,’’ he said.
No matter the fine coloration given to it, as a farmer, I am against this policy. And as a journalist, I reject this proposal in its totality and draw attention of the Governor of Akwa Ibom state, Mr Udom Emmanuel and the people of the state to the inherent danger in this policy.
A colony is a country or settlement where a group of people with a shared interest or heritage settle and are TEMPORARILY (emphasis mine) under the control of the country of settlement. It follows, therefore, that a people in a colony normally seek and are granted independence after years of existence.
For instance, Nigeria was a British colony and 1st October, 1960, was granted independence after years of agitations. Kenya was a British colony, but 12th December, 1963, was granted independence. Brazil was a colony of Portugal, but 7th September, 1822, was granted independence. Australia was a British colony, but 1st January, 1901, was granted independence.
So any colony created today by the Buhari’s administration for the Fulani herdsmen will definitely be granted independence in future by the federal government, at that time, nobody can stop it.
Hence, to forestall this dangerous trend and prevent future attacks and/or clashes between Fulani Herdsmen and Akwa Ibom farmers, by extension Akwa Ibom people, Governor Emmanuel should not allow any part of the state to be made a cattle colony.
In addition, I call on Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to as a matter of urgent public important pass a resolution rejecting the proposed cattle colony in the state. Bearing in mind that, Akwa Ibom is a civil service state. Our only means of livelihood is farming and agriculture. We do not even have enough land to cultivate our crops for commercial quantity, why seek to allocate our small pieces of land to herdsmen in the name of “cattle colony”?
It is high time, we revisited “The Prohibition Of Cattle And Other Ruminants Grazing In Akwa Ibom State, 2016, Bill”, sponsored by the Member representing Essien Udim in the State House of Assembly, Mr Nse Ntuen.
My argument still remains that, the Nse Ntuen Anti-Open Grazing Bill should not be killed due to some obnoxious Sections therein. Instead, let’s rework it, delete these obnoxious Sections such as; ‘Section 2(2)’ that reads: “The Governor shall by an order designate land in each local government in respect of which cattle or other ruminants may be permitted to graze,” which to me is similar to “Cattle colonies ” being proposed by the federal government.
Meanwhile, I commend the Governor of Abia State and former Governor of Plateau State, Mr Okezie Ikpeazu and Mr Jonah Jang, respectively, for publicly rejecting the proposed cattle colony policy of the federal government.
Until President Buhari, the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of this country, musters the needed political will power, to deal decisively with the Fulani Herdsmen’s criminality, using our gallant military troops in place of the Nigeria Police Force – same way the Boko Haram sect in the North East is being tackled; same way the militants in the South South are being tackled and same way IPOB in the South East is being tackled, the herdsmen, who are mostly non-Nigerians, will continue to carry out genocide and pogroms against Nigerians and the Nigerian state.
*Franklyn Isong is a public affairs commentator