Yesterday night I had a fierce battle with cows and a herdsman in my dream. I was comfortably coming into my compound to have a rest after the day's activities. Behold some cows and their herder ambushed me at the gate. The cows were looking so fierce. Their horns were looking like sharp swords. The herder was carrying a loaded Ak-47 with his finger at the trigger. My breath failed me. I said my last prayers before mustering courage to confront the armed strange herder and the fierce cows. I raised my voice and asked the herder, “Mallam, what is wrong? What are you and your 'namas' doing in my house? The herder muttered something in an esoteric language. Instantly, one of the cows jumped up and was coming towards me with its horns pointed at my stomach. The herder pressed the trigger, aiming at my heart. He released about six bullets. Miraculously I escaped death by the whiskers by jumping very high into the air. The herder shouted, “Mutum banza, get out of here! I have come to colonize your compound with my cattle.” Since life has no duplicate, I jumped over the wall and ran away without looking backward. As I was running and panting, I woke up from sleep. I calmed myself down and did the Sign of the Cross seven times. Then I exclaimed, “Thank God that it was a dream!” I couldn't sleep again. I washed my face and ran into the Holy of Holies to seek for divine protection from seen and unseen enemies.
The plan by the Federal Government of Muhammadu Buhari to set up cattle colony in the 36 States of Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory triggered the awful dream I had. Colony, Colonization and Colonialism are siblings. The term 'colony' is derived from the Latin word 'colonia.' The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines colony as “a country or area that is under the political control of a more powerful country, usually one that is far away.” Colonization is then the establishing of political control over an area or over another country and sending your citizens to settle there. According to Wikipedia, “Colonialism is the policy of a nation seeking to extend or retain its authority over other people or territories generally with the benefit of colonizing country and helping the colonies modernize in terms defined by the colonizers.”
Between 15th century and 1914, Spain, Portugal, Britain, France, Netherlands, Germany and other smaller European countries established colonies outside Europe. Our country Nigeria was colonized by the British because of its resources in 1884 at the Berlin Conference, where Africa was divided by European powers. Britain used its military to gain power. The initial resistance from the people living in the Niger area was crushed. As a result of economic reasons, Lord Lugard amalgamated the different tribes around the Niger area into one country and called it Nigeria. She got her Independence on 1st October 1960. By that time I was still in the world of ideas. Britain indirectly ruled Nigeria for about 76 years.
It is unfortunate that after gaining Independence from Britain in 1960, our country Nigeria is venturing into another form of colonialism. It is not Britain doing this second colonization but the Fulani Herdsmen and their cattle. In George Orwell's Book titled “Animal Farm” human beings were formerly in-charge of the Animal Farm. Later, due to maltreatment and injustice meted on the animals, the brutes staged a protest. The wise pigs masterminded the protest. The animals rose and drove away the human beings from the farm and took control. The animals led by the pigs developed their maxim which read “Two Legs bad, four Legs good.” This means the superiority of the animal kingdom over human kingdom. The pigs became the executive officers in the farm. They colonized the farm until things fell apart, when the pigs started walking on their two hind legs like human beings. From this time they changed their maxim to “Two Legs good, four Legs bad.” Read the Book 'Animal Farm' and see what happened later.
Today in our country Nigeria, the Fulani herdsmen and their cows are speedily taking over power. As it is turning out to be, the life of cattle is worth more than human life. In the moral parlance, we were taught about the sanctity of human life over other living things. In other words, human life is superior to the life of animals and trees. The animals in Animal Farm led by the wise pigs colonized the farm. Currently, the Fulani cows led by the herdsmen are about to colonize the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory. To achieve this feat, thousands of innocent Nigerians have been brutally massacred by the Fulani herdsmen over the recent years. It is said, forward ever; backward never! But it seems we are going backwards. Are we not gradually drifting into the State of Nature, where might is power and the survival of the fittest reigns supreme? God forbid!
How can herdsmen and their cows hold the Giant of Africa (Nigeria) to ransom? If a dog bites a person, it is not a new story because we know that dogs bite. But if a person bites a dog, it becomes a great story. Many innocent Nigerians have lost their lives at the hands of Fulani herdsmen for the sake of their cattle. It has happened unabated in Plateau, Benue, Enugu, Abia, Adamawa, Kaduna and Taraba states. Other states are not spared. A bird dancing at the middle of the road has someone in the bush beating the drums for it. The original Fulani herdsmen we knew went about with sticks for the control of their cows. Sadly today, they go about with Ak-47 and other dangerous weapons. They kill and maim innocent villagers at odd hours. They destroy houses and other valuables. They also rape women. The most tearful act they commit is killing pregnant women, ripping off their bellies and then cutting the unborn babies into pieces. The heavens are really crying for vengeance!
The most annoying thing is that none of the perpetrators of those dastardly acts have so far neither been arrested nor persecuted. The present Federal Government led by President Buhari keeps mute over these atrocities. The question on every lip is: Who arms the herdsmen with sophisticated weapons? Who are the owners of those cows? Why is the Government silent over the bloody atrocities? At the inauguration of the President of this country, he swears to defend the lives of the citizens and secure the integrity of the Nation. Recently 73 innocent people consisting of men, women and children were massacred in Benue State by the Fulani herdsmen. There has been no concrete action from the Federal Government of Buhari against the unjust attackers. Are they sacred cows? Most government appointees and members of the Nigerian Security Council are core Muslim Hausa-Fulani people. Is the President then practicing Divide and Rule government? Nepotism is the order of the day. Why has Operation Python Dance or Operation Crocodile Tears not been sent to confront the unjust aggressors in Benue State and other places being attacked by the herdsmen? Indeed Operation Lion Fight needs to be sent to confront the bloody Fulani herdsmen.
Between 2016 and 2017, the Bill to establish Cattle Grazing Reserve was put up in the National Assembly for approval, which would empower the Federal Government to amass Lands in the 36 States of the Federation including Abuja for the settlement of the herdsmen and grazing of their cattle. Unfortunately the Bill was quashed. Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief.
Until the rotten tooth is pulled out, the mouth must continue to chew with caution. The silence of the graveyard does not mean that the spirits are not hovering around and causing havoc here and there. Since the Cattle Reserve Bill was thrown out, its sponsors have not gone to sleep. A person who sells his monkey and buys a dog still has a strange noisy animal in his home. Hence the Federal Government proposal of setting up Cattle colony in the 36 states including the Federal Capital territory spells doom for this country. This is in fact a new Colonization agenda. If this agenda passes through, the Fulani Herdsmen and their cows will colonize the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory. Each colony will be about five thousand hectares of land for Fulani herdsmen, their polygamous families and their cattle. One hectare is equal to a football field. Ten hectares is one square kilometer. Then hundred hectares is 10 square kilometers. In essence, 5000 hectares will give rise to 500 square kilometers which is an equivalent of a Local Government Area. This implies that the Fulani herdsmen, their families and their cows will automatically constitute one Local Government Area in each State of the Federation. It is a real colonization of Nigeria. Implicitly, the herdsmen and their cows will take over the governance of this country. The cows will be treated with high dignity. Some of them will be appointed ministers and ambassadors. Anyone who tempers with the life of any cow faces death sentence or life imprisonment. Also the Fulani people are mostly Muslims. They will surely enforce their religion upon their host communities. There will be fire on the mountain.
Nigerians are presently facing a lot of economic hardships. There is no need pouring fuel unto fire. The best solution to the menace of the Fulani herdsmen is setting up of ranches as is done in developed countries. Cattle-rearing is a private business and not the responsibility of the Federal Government to give them free lands. The cattle breeders should buy land and set up ranches for their cows. Then they provide feeds for them on daily basis. Houses have been built here and there. Most of the remaining lands are for farming. Therefore the era of open grazing from place to place is no more obtainable. The crops planted by farmers should not be tampered with in the guise of grazing. The population of Nigeria is multiplying daily. Things are getting worse every day. Most Nigerians are hungry and angry. Let us give peace a chance to reign. The Federal Government of Buhari should go after the bloody herdsmen and bring them to justice in order to appease the families of those who lost their dear ones in the unfortunate massacre in different states. President Buhari should remember that he swore at his inauguration: “I am for everybody and for nobody.” Action speaks louder than voice. Those politicians endorsing Buhari for a second term when the country is on fire are really inhuman. A fly without a good adviser perishes with the corpse.