Integrating the Fulani into Modern Day Nigeria

It will shock Nigerians to know that more people have died as a result of Fulani/indigene clashes in the last half a decade than have died from terrorist activity occasioned by the Boko Haram terrorist sect. As horrific as individual Boko Haram activities are, they pale in comparison to the barbarous slaughter of over 500 men, women, and children in a single night of terror at Dogo na Hauwa village of Plateau State of 2010.

Terrorist activities occasioned by the Boko Haram terrorist group have been largely localised in Nigeria’s North-east save for some sporadic attacks in other parts of the North and the Federal Capital Territory.

However, Fulani/indigene clashes have occurred in every state of Nigeria bar none! Needless lives have been lost all over Nigeria in these clashes and this will continue in perpetuity if as a nation we do not take steps to change the conditions that give rise to these clashes.

Just as with the Romany Gypsies of Europe, it is very easy to blame this itinerant group of cattle herders, buying such an exercise would in my opinion be an exercise in futility. I share the same view as movie producer, J. Michael Straczynski, who famously said: “People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.” Nigeria must grow out of her past and that cannot happen until Nigerians stop pointing in blame and starting pointing to solutions.

Even before there was a nation called Nigeria, the Fulani had been passing through several nations en route markets all over West Africa. Year in and year out, they followed established grazing routes and as long as their cattle had grass and vegetation to feed on, they coexisted in peace with communities along their grazing routes. But as West Africa became increasingly urbanised, it was and is a matter of time before increase in population put pressure on local communities to use the ancient Fulani grazing routes for farmland or residential purposes.

It is the competition for the scarce commodity of land that has brought about friction between the Fulani’s and the indigenous people along these reserves. So what do we do? What is the solution? Obviously we cannot do nothing and watch as people continue to die all over Nigeria.

We must do something and I propose that Nigeria should take the following series of steps.
We should restore the ancient grazing routes of Fulani pastoralists. Both the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Federal Ministry of Lands should work with the apex Fulani pastoral association, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, to revive these routes and where there have been farms or houses built on these routes, alternative routes must be found.

Next, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture should give a deadline of no less than 10 years to the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association to convert from pastoral cattle rearing to the modern business of cattle ranching in which cattle are reserved, reared and bred at a central location suitable for such purposes.

Measurable timelines should be agreed with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association for progress towards this objective and penalties for failure to progress towards these timelines must be clearly spelt out.

Next, the Federal Ministries of Finance and Defence must collaborate through their agencies to monitor and ensure proper taxation of the informal cattle rearing economy and also to ensure that the government can trace the whereabouts of individual Fulani clans. This can be done easily by identifying the cattle rearers entry point into Nigeria and stationing mobile border posts there with armed officials of the Nigerian Customs Service Department of Animal Control.

Upon entry into Nigeria, every cattle must be shot with a homing device which will enable Customs officials and the ministry of defence track each cattle as they enter Nigeria and to pin point their location anywhere within our borders. These devices are cheap and practical.
There is a huge informal economy that is not taxed by the various governments in Nigeria. Tagging these cattle as they enter Nigerian soil will not just have positive security implications, it will also affect the economy positively as the federal government will have accurate numbers of the total cattle on the hoof that enters Nigeria and how much to charge as duty on each cattle.

By tagging the cattle, Nigeria will not only increase her revenue base in a world of falling oil prices, but we will have the additional benefit of knowing in real time where each herd of cattle are within our borders and how to proactively deploy our police and military for internal security issues to prevent Fulani/Indigene clashes. Nigeria has too many intellectuals who know how to analyse problems and give angles to them. But we do not have enough minds working on solutions. We will make more progress if our public intellectualism is geared towards solving than the analysis of challenges. Nations make more progress when their leaders are more concerned with accepting responsibility than with apportioning blame.

This is the mindset to solving the Fulani/indigene and all other similar and related incidences of insecurity. We should be looking for solutions and those in authority should reward such intellectual efforts by adopting them. It should be clear to the discerning that terrorism, Fulani/indigene clashes, ethnic and religious strife and corruption are not really the problem of Nigeria. They are merely the symptoms of our problems. The main problem Nigeria has is that we have moved from a nation of about 50 million people in 1960 when we got independence from Britain, to a nation of close to 200 million people today.

While our population has quadrupled, opportunities have not quadrupled and in some cases they have reduced rather than increased. So the problem is that we have more people competing for fewer resources and when you have this scenario, civil strife is inevitable.
Factor in the dwindling revenue from oil, which is what fuelled our unprecedented population growth, and the situation is even more dire. The job of a leader in this type of situation is not to point a finger and say you are to blame and you are not to blame. No!

The job of a leader is to surround himself with people who know the root cause of problems and can come up with creative solutions to them because as Albert Einstein said: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”. If we have a roadmap for the future where cattle can be ranched in Nigeria by the Fulani and any other group that want to go into this form of business, Nigeria can become an exporter of beef thus turning a problem (Fulani/Indigene clash) into an opportunity. Some might read this and think this is far fetched, but they would be wrong.

About 10 years ago, a certain Fulani man named Abubakar Bukola Saraki introduced modern cattle ranching to Shonga in Kwara State when he, as Governor of Kwara State, invited the White Zimbabwean farmers that had lost their lands in Robert Mugabe’s land redistribution programme to Nigeria. Saraki’s government assisted the White Zimbabweans with financing, land and other necessary resources needed to resettle them in Nigeria. These farmers have successfully and profitably ranched cattle at Shonga and are contributing significantly to the economy of Kwara State and Nigeria without clashing with local farmers and other indigenes.

As a matter of fact, rather than clashes with the indigenes, they are employing the local farmers and indigenes and Shonga has become an epitome of peaceful coexistence in Nigeria. If one Fulani man in the person of Saraki can do this, then other Fulani can do it as well. There is money in cattle ranching. Make no mistake about it.

Take Argentina for example, 3 per cent of all exports out of Argentina is beef which provides an annual revenue of $5 billion to the Argentine government. Argentina provides 7.4 per cent of the world’s beef exports and this is a market that has not been exhausted. There is room for growth in the global market for beef exports and Nigeria can key in to this by harnessing the resources of the Fulani through modern cattle ranches that will provide the domestic market with inexpensive beef and improve Nigeria’s balance of trade position by exporting beef and cattle to other nations.

This will provide revenue for the government and jobs for the people. This is Ben Murray Bruce and I just want to make common sense!

• Senator Murray Bruce is the senator representing Bayelsa East in the National Assembly and is Chairman of the Silverbird Group

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60 replies

  1. Who is Genuine in Nigeria?

    Senator Ben Murray Bruce turned 60 yesterday (17th Feb., 2016), he took the opportunity to launch his book “The Common Sense Revolution” but it’s sad to see that the event in its totality portrays the average Nigerian Politician.

    Usually, I hate to attend these so called “Big” events but it was Ben Bruce, the common sense guy, I jumped at the Opportunity to go with my department, department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos as we were invited with a letter and we were feeling all important. We didn’t know it was an invitation to humiliation.

    At the venue, we were told to go upstairs, we didn’t mind, as they said that area was reserved for students. Getting there, I realized it was a perfect view to watch the “Elites” wine and dine. Still, we didn’t care. We only began to care when the ceremony kept going on and all tables kept getting additional contents and we were just there, like Observers. Don’t forget that we were invited, as I said earlier.

    While all of that kept happening, I still didn’t care because they said every guest will get a free copy of the book. I wanted the book so, I waited on. At the end, only the guests got the Book. I had to look at our invitation to be sure we were guests. Yes, we were guests but the stiff class stratification that Senator Bruce Criticizes came to play.

    It’s so sad to see that the actions of the Common Sense Guy justifies the “Common Sense is not so common” statement.

    Since I know it’s all fake, I’d like to give a professional PR advice. It’s so bad, if you invite Nigerian Students, who will, to a large extent, determine your political success, to an event only for them to watch you and your rich friends dine. Their votes aren’t even enough.

    Writing a book about Common Sense doesn’t actually make you have Common Sense. We aren’t hungry people. We are Unilag Students and we are contented with what we have, we wouldn’t go to shop 10 to sweet-talk anyone about common sense, just to get rice.

    Happy Birthday, Senator Ben! Thanks for the deceit, segregation and above all, thanks so much for the Palm oil made Jollof Rice with a meat-like object.

    I am Abidemi Adesokan, A concerned Nigerian Student who believes there is hope for Nigeria, but Bruce isn’t just that guy.

    Please Read and share!

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  2. Your pain is understandable, valid and genuine maybe but i’d like you to archive this piece and read it to yourself again in 10 or 20 years. By then I believe you should see it differently. Be assured that the book will do its bit in repairing Nigeria. What you must know is that, for now, those you call his friends have the decision making powers to influence Nigeria’so course and so are the first target. Sorry you possibly weren’t treated well but you need to forgive because that’s not even him. The event has a team of organisers and you will have to forgive him for not getting involved in all the details of the planning maybe. We are not always perfect you know, and he’s 60, an old man he’s becoming. Gaze deeper into his probable good intentions. Abidemi, now you have a challenge to have a greater vision than his and make it work, he’s already doing his bit. Nigeria will progress when we do our bits and forgive each other as well as commend the good in others. God bless you and Nigeria’s future.

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  3. Government should take a proactive measure on sensitization policy and proper orientation of Fulani herdsmen, were government should be delegating team if perhaps twice a week to Fulani community and addressing them on the need to live together cordially with her neibouring community, and such delegation should include religious leaders especially that of the Islamic strata, the National orientation Agency, expert in Agricultural sector especially those within the confine of animal husbandry telling them the various modalities of quarrintazation of their animal and other agricultural product and in all government should enlighting them on the need of education and provision of good road map that will enable them to transport their agricultural product to near by community.

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  4. The smartest senator in the house.

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  5. The funniest thing about Nigeria Sir, and SOME Nigerian’s is Common Sense isn’t Common. Sentiments! Lies! ethnocentrism amongst other negatives
    plague this vast land of more blessings than we sometimes acknowledge or even realize. The issues behind the Herdsmen and majorly farmers is
    one where I believe may not end soon unless the FG/ Herdsmen and Farmers are able to be sincere in digging deep into the root causes of the issues
    and sincerely tackling them sentiments aside. Problems I see are where a party will be cheated then asked to forgive over and over again and the
    root causes have been buried for years unresolved. Then State and FG’s also try to resolve them in ways that will bring revenue and not proper solutions.

    Ranches can be created anywhere, not necessarily away from the Core North where the herdsmen come from. The “Great Man Made River” is
    evidence of this. This could be described as the worlds largest irrigation project. Nobody “so to speak” was displaced from his home for the sake of another
    for this. Gaddafi turned one of the sunniest and driest countries in Africa into an oasis. Look at dry Borno, Kano, Katsina, etc. Why not do this and add a “green-ness”
    to them?

    “In August 1984, Muammar Gaddafi laid the foundation stone for the pipe production plant at Brega, and the Great Man-Made River Project began. Around 1,300 wells were dug into the desert soil, some up to 500 meters deep, to pump water from the subterranean water reserve. The pumped water is then distributed to 6.5 million people living in the cities of Tripoli, Benghazi, Sirte and elsewhere through a network of underground pipes 2,800 km long. When the fifth and final phase of the project is complete, the network will have 4,000 km length of pipes that will enable 155,000 hectares of land to be cultivated. Even with the last two phases yet to complete, the Great Man-Made River is the world’s largest irrigation project ,,, The project was so well recognized internationally that in 1999, UNESCO accepted Libya’s offer to fund the Great Man-Made River International Water Prize, an award that rewards remarkable scientific research work on water usage in arid areas.” – http://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/07/the-great-man-made-river-of-libya.html

    Was it expensive? Yes. Very. Very Expensive. But try the expense of ignorance and years of wastage. Does Nigeria need a project this big? No. That was a country. This is what I am proposing for a few states to harbor the Herdsmen. I don’t see it fair for ranches to be created with government money for a segmented group of people as is the case at the senate. Respectably, one group may not want to rear pigs or goats or fish or even cattle and another group might. Now its a segmentation in the name of peace. This isn’t fair.

    You mentioned tagging cattle? Brilliant idea. I hope the proposal of that nature would work.

    You also mentioned, “We should restore the ancient grazing routes of Fulani pastoralists. Both the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Federal Ministry of Lands should work with the apex Fulani pastoral association, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, to revive these routes and where there have been farms or houses built on these routes, alternative routes must be found.” However, where proposals like this if they were meant to be looked into without the farmers and their representatives there would be looked upon with the curious eye. Why an exemption of a concern group in the matter?

    I realize these are your valid proposals sir, (and respected take on it) however, from my angle, the majority of Nigerians have no say to the way their lives are being twisted and turned by those in power at the state and above levels. More times than not we are told we can always talk to our representatives (the ones behind tinted glasses that we don’t see). 4 years stand between us and seeing them.

    The Common sense series is a rationale project. I wish more people would emulate it and actualize it. Kudos.

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  6. This is a private business venture and should be under the laws of the land. You can not take my small farm land in Anambra state of which is a remaining part of the erosion ravaged piece of land inherited from my Great Grand Father and handover to a Fulani cattle herder from wherever all in the name of peace and coexistence. If the Fulani cattle herder needs my piece of land he should come and negotiate with me and if he can afford it we exchange values.
    These Fulani cattle herders should emulate the 500 – Hectare Maizube Farms Nigeria Limited owned by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, located at Km 26, Minna-Bida Road, Minna, Niger State, Which is the most modern ranch in Nigeria.
    Gen Abubakar did not acquire the land by force or through government but by negotiations and exchange of values.
    The fact is that the Fulanis are making enemies around the country that no one wants to associate with them any more.
    Akwa Ibom state with some investors are embarking on a 200,000 herds of cattle based ranch and if other states in the south embarks on same project, there will be no one touching the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association folks again
    Can you imagine ”We’ve paid some Fulani to stop killings in Southern Kaduna” – El-Rufai vanguard DECEMBER 3, 2016
    Enough is enough for the Fulanis if they are wise, ‘they have taken more than the owner know..’

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  7. I think its an good idea ,use the skill there already have

    Like

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