These sources culminate in shaping the occupational thrust of any group within the world’s economic definition or description. For people who found themselves inhabiting the riverine areas of the planet Earth, their engagements are amphibious in nature.
This is due to the fact that majority of their populace would naturally be fisher-men and women while few of them may engage themselves as peasant farmers, putting to use the very small space of available land for the cultivation of some crops for their domestic use, with the probability of selling the excess ones. In Nigeria, these areas include the Niger Delta, Lagos, Onitsha, Asaba, Makurdi and Lokoja.
Nigerians in the rain forest vegetation, by virtue of their geography, are naturally inclined to crop farming. In this wise, they plant such crops as cassava, yam, pineapple, cocoyam, maize, melon, plantain and assorted kinds of vegetable. They also plant cash crops such as palm- trees, cocoa and rubber. The rain- forest zone of Nigeria covers, mainly, the southern part of the country.
There is also the savannah vegetation zone of Nigeria, which is deeply characterized by gradual but systematic encroachment of the Sahara desert. This Zone constitutes the North- East and North–West of Nigeria. The traditional agro occupational trend by the people of this zone is cattle rearing. They also plant cereals such as maize, millet, sorghum, wheat and barley. Cotton and groundnuts were special areas the people of the zone had distinguished themselves in colonial era and during the first Republican epoch.
There would be no iota of exaggeration if one says that Nigeria, before the discovery of oil in commercial quantity, was successfully run on the strength of revenue, including her foreign reserve, almost wholly derived from its agricultural sector.
The interesting thing about Nigeria’s agricultural conglomeration is that nature made the food needs of Nigerians to observe a chain of inter- dependency. In this case, what the North lacks, the South produces and what the South does not have, the North has. In the supply chain, the North finds market for her cattle, groundnuts, yam, tomatoes, garden- eggs and other crops it produces, which demand is high, in the South. Agro products such as palm–oil, brooms, baskets and Kola nuts that Southerners produce are sent to the North for sale.
For some years running, the North-East and North-West have been experiencing desertification. Lake Chad has been on a steady decrease. The vegetation in the two areas can no longer sustain cattle rearing. Breeding of cattle and other animals that are herbivorous has almost ceased to be in the two regions. Since man has to survive and no legitimate useful occupation should be allowed to become extinct, the Fulani herdsmen, who naturally are itinerant or migrant farmers, have been wandering down the South of Nigeria that has greener pasture. Geographically they have to pass through the Middle-Belt which has a better weather condition than theirs.
It may be stated, for the umpteenth time and for purposes of emphasis, that many things in Nigeria are done upside-down. The Fulani herdsman breeds his cattle for economic gains. The farmer from the Middle-Belt, Igbo or Yoruba plants his crops also for economic actualization. In Igbo parlance, it is said that ‘a source of wealth should not destroy another source of wealth’. This is, however, a sharp contrast when compared with what famers in the Middle-Belt, Igbo and Yoruba encounter as menace from Fulani herdsmen whose cattle destroy their crops almost on a daily basis.
Not only that crops are destroyed by ravaging cattle of the Fulani herdsmen, the herdsmen themselves, are unwarrantedly dangerously violent. In more than ninety-nine percent of known instances where a famer, whose farm crops had been destroyed by cattle, had questioned why his farm should be turned into a grazing field, the Fulani herdsmen had drawn their swords and used their bow and arrow.
They do this with outright impurity. This impurity has unaccountably led to violent and blood-spilling crises in the Middle-Belt of Nigeria, where many farmers and innocent indigenes have lost their lives in such states as Benue, Nasarawa, and Plateau. Many rural farming communities have been attacked with sophisticated weapons which ordinarily should not be within the reach of civilian Fulani herdsmen. This aspect of Fulani belligerency has continued to be a source of immense worry to many Nigerians. Many questions have arisen from the bellicose disposition of the Fulani herdsmen against crop farmers.
In the first instance, how do the Fulani herdsmen procure the advanced dangerous weapons with which they try to annihilate indigenes of their host communities in the Middle-Belt. Could the Fulani herdsmen that serve as daily shepherds to the cattle of the Alhaji be the same persons that handle the weapons of mass destruction in the darkness of the night with professional dexterity to exterminate life from aggrieved farmers whose crops and hope of living had been destroyed? Is it possible or impossible that Fulani indigenes in the Nigerian security system could be overtly or covertly involved in this act of wanting to wipe out communities which indigenes express dissatisfaction with herdsmen whose recklessness and gross impunity lead to their economic deprivation and frustration? A lot of question begs for answer here.
Not minding the mayhem the Fulani herdsmen have caused in the Middle-Belt, they have moved into the South of Nigeria with more determination to exhibit gross impunity in their hostility against host farmers. If the calamity caused by the Fulani herdsmen were limited to destruction of crops and farm lands, it would, probably have been a different thing al-together. But the catastrophe foisted on their hosts, hosts that never bargained for it, appears to be deliberately sequentially calibrated and graduated. The Fulani herdsmen violently rape women they come across in their farms.
The state of health of these herdsmen, who hardly take their bath for weeks, is not known. Yet they force their female victims to rounds of unprotected sexual activity. Like a bull in a China shop, the Fulani herdsmen have thrown caution to the wind. They have now graduated into kidnapping and collecting huge amount of money from their victims as ransom.
On 21st September, 2015, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and a chieftain of the Yoruba socio-cultural Organization, Afenifere, Chief Olu Falae, was kidnapped in his farm at Ilado in Akure in Ondo State. According to him, as reported by the media. He was kidnapped by six armed Fulani herdsmen. The type of hardship the Former Minister of Finance was subjected to was better imagined than experienced. The harrowing experience of physical torture and psychological trauma Chief Falae went through, notwithstanding, the Fulani herdsmen successfully insisted on collecting five million naira from the family of the seventy-seven old statesman. Should the sad commentary of Chief Falae, whose only offence was that he frowned at the destruction of his farm land and crops by Fulani herdsmen and their cattle, not be the climax of this Fulani immunity in a country that is said to belong to all?
This recklessness of impunity by the Fulani herdsmen and their sponsors is, no doubt, a major threat to the unity and continued corporate existence of Nigeria. The President; Mr. Muhammadu Buhari who is a Fulani, has an important role to play by calling his fellow Fulanis to a timely order. In addition, the Federal government of Nigeria should address the problems arising from Fulani herdsmen and their flock, once and for all, by providing grazing fields where the Fulani herdsmen and their cattle can be safely accommodated. This is what obtains in Europe and America.
Source: Don Ubani