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. Mehn! This is more than #CommonSense. This is wisdom. I get that you’re a Senator and a huge part of your job is to make research and propose bills in the senate for the betterment of Nigerians. But I just hope if someday you become our President, that you match your words with actions. Seriously mehn! I admire you alot. In school, I always to get to be the leader in a group for most projects. And my advice to my team all the time is “think like Ben Bruce!” I admire you alot. Thumbs up!

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    • The problem in Nigeria politics is that people like Bruce are never truely appreciated by government. But I know the time is near when people with common sense would pilot the affairs of this country in the right direction. God bless Nigeria, God bless Ben Murray Bruce.

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  2. A great article Sir, we at the dream seminar Sir are in awe of you.. We love the passion you have for making Nigeria a better place and we want you to come inspire us in our 30, 000 student university of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Sir, we look up to you as one of the greatest leaders in our country. We would very much appreciate a response. Thank you Sir

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  3. Lovely ideas you’ve got there, Mr Murray-Bruce! I’ve always maintained that the bulk of the responsibility, when it comes to the incessant herdsmen-indigenes clash, rests on the shoulder of the government and that there’s the need to restore the grazing routes. I’m coming across the ideas of giving a timeline of 10 years to the leadership of the herdmens, the use of microchips and making cattle ranches the successor to pastoralism, and I just love the ideas. Besides the billions the country will make in taxes too is also there. The LG will also benefit by finally waking up to their statutory responsibility of establishing and maintaining slaughter slabs. More money for the government through taxes, more job opportunities for Nigerians, less acrimony and bloodshed in the country… The benefits goes on and on. Thank you for the “common sense”! I’m bookmarking your web address.

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  4. I like your reasoning it’s really more thanjust ccommon sense right from the time I met your family

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  5. thanks for shedding more light on fulani/indigenous clashes & how to create resources from common unforeseen pressing issues of Nigerian….

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  6. I hope and pray Govt will take heed and act quickly too. My pple in Southern Kaduna have been hard-hit by the baberic killings.
    Thank God, Ben, as you are part of this Govt. Keep on the advocacy as we are solely behind you. God keep and bless you.

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  7. Point of correction:Bukola Saraki is not a fulani man

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  8. I don’t agree with all of his recommendations but this is one senator who is genuinely making an effort to deliver. Clear reasoning and addressing problems at source. Lets hope the others get the message that this what we expect.

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  9. more than just common sense.

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  10. I am a keen follower of the Senator´s Common Sense series and wish to beg that it’s time for a book to emerge from it and make it a manual for the development of Nigeria.

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  11. wow! spot on! well written and so very true

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  12. Senator Bruce, Your intentions may be sincere but you solution is very unrealistic.

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  13. NICE PIECE FROM AN ORIGINAL SOURCE

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  14. commonsesical senator.

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  15. Brilliant, Senator Murray Bruce. Good thing you are a senator, and that Fulani man you made reference to, is the current President of the Nigerian Senate. So I suggest you present this issue as a bill without further delay. You certainly will have the ear of Senate President Bukola Saraki who is quite familiar with the topic both ethnically and experiential.

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  16. Senator . That piece was great and to the point. A win win situation. Now that you’ve in the Senate can you bring this matter properly to the table for consideration. Please

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  17. Senator, your presentations in print and television to “make common sense” boil down to the need to first create a new economy!
    It is doubtful if this can be achieved with Nigeria as presently configured! We need a new country and a new economy period!!

    A country where only 3% of exports provide national revenue of $5 billion and controls 7.4% of global beef market is the example
    of the new mindset we desperately need in order to appreciate the need and what is required to build a new economy!

    Talking about mindset, let me give an example. Mexico is a smaller country than Nigeria. Against our crude oil production level of
    2.4 million barrels/day, they produce a paltry 400,000 barrels/day, yet Government there is more generous than ours.
    As the days drew nearer for transition from analog broadcast to digital, the Mexican Government spent $1.6 billion in purchasing
    and distributing 24 inch digital television sets to the 10 million poorest Mexicans. Their reason.. they want the poor to also benefit
    from opportunities presented by technology! If it was in our country, those tv sets will be 1970 models and would disappear and
    not get to the poorest in the land! I repeat, we need a new country and a new economy period!

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  18. A sensible piece overall, Sen. Murray-Bruce. But pray tell: how do you restore the grazing routes without seriously dislocating other legitimate land users? As your article acknowledged, most of these grazing routes are no longer there. They have long been transformed into parts of towns, villages, urban centres, roads, schools, farms, industries, etc. as a result of development and population growth. Are you in anyway suggesting that government should confiscate the lands from the current occupants and turn them over to herdsmen as grazing routes? What is good for the goose is also good for the gander; would you also advocate that government do same for the benefit of crop farmers who have also been adversely impacted by development and population growth before the problem of scarcity of land for crop faming is addressed?
    My view is that restoration of grazing routes should not be part of the solution. Let herdsmen adapt to the current reality. Let them modernize by converting to ranching just as crop farmers were forced by circumstances to modernize by converting from old farming practices such as “shifting cultivation” to “crop rotation” and “use of fertilizers”. But I agree with you that this problem of hersdmen-clashes-with-locals needs to be urgently addressed. And I hope you and other government officials will not just talk about it but actually take action.

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  19. A very good article, except for one issue. The senator appeared confused about the difference between clashes and often unprovoked attacks. A clash is a confrontation between two parties. But when one party is asleep and attacked and slaughtered by another party, then this is hardly a confrontation.

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  20. Very thoughtful and timely

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  21. We need more of your mind in our country…

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  22. In an ideal society, there is a social contract between the citizens and the government. The idea of asking citizens to pay taxes to a government that has has no moral compass, or able to respond to the needs of it’s people, will be a travesty of justice.
    The plight of the Fulani is nothing new. Indeed this is why today the crises with Boko Haram has gained sympath with some Fulani, the believe is that their respected and elected government, has sought to rape them of their heritage and way of life. Nigerians are an extremely intelligent group, we are tolerant of exploitation by the one percent ruling class. However I pray for this 1%, because the day the exploited group become a collective regardless of cultural or geographical difference, that will mark the revolution like in the French Republic.

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  23. Sir,

    You make much more than common sense. I don’t know if our Nigeria government has a Solutions and Development Think Tank. If such is not in existence, I strongly suggest that such should be put in place and you should be the Director/Coordinator.

    The solutions you have highlighted, I agree, are practicable and doable. Foresight is sine qua non in designing and planning for a Nigeria of our dreams.

    More grease to your elbows.

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  24. *I see in you a man of integrity who will act according to his word and will never compromise.
    *A voice for the voiceless.
    *You are an apostles of change

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  25. This isn’t common sense and it’s not innovation. I call this grand master plan by a leader who knows how stuff work. Think innovation for humanity and people planet and prosperity. “As we seek to build capacities
    and to help the new agenda to
    take root , volunteerism can be
    another powerful and cross –
    cutting means of
    implementation . Volunteerism
    can help to expand and mobilize
    constituencies and to engage
    people in national planning and
    implementation for sustainable
    development goals . And
    volunteer groups can help to
    localize the new agenda by
    providing new areas of
    interaction between
    Governments and people for
    concrete and scalable actions. ” Ban Ki Moon

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  26. Common sense has it all my next president… God will continue to motivate u to b stronger n also long life in other for u to achieve ur desire to make my country a place to b… I too wnt to make common senses

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  27. sir..
    I like your articles, please how can I follow up on Facebook if you have a page. also I’ll like you to address the issue of education in Nigeria bringing to light the rate of university strike most especially unijos. Thanks.

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  28. Sir, my question is; why were u silentwhen ur kinsman was at d helm of affair & chose to b makin common sense (talk now) that a new man is in charge???

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  29. Its personal.Pls sir,d people of Anyama-Ogbia in ur senatorial district needs ur help. They are suffering from chronic erosion problem that has succeeded clearing hundreds of buildings, farmlands etc.Pls ,work wit d house of reps woman who is an indigene to get reed of the problem. lt has lasted for over 50yes.

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  30. This’s more than a common sense how which as u came with d ldea then our leaders put it into action .things could have change now indeed. But as u said d truth God will bless u.

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  31. Sir, I have never seen a Nigerian with this kind of vision, the first time I hear you speak was earlier this year, when you spoke on “HOPE FOR NIGERIAN AT SILVERBIRD” that was one of the most popular speech I have ever hard from a politician, and I was moved by that speech, and I called all my friends and love once to hear that speech, it was inspiring, and I said to myself, this is the kind of president Nigeria need, a mind full with clear vision, idea, hope and goodness for the country, when I watch that speech tears roll down my eyes, because I could see what you, Ben Bruce Murray sees for my country Nigerian, I am also angry and mad about the backwardness of my country Nigeria to the extends that right now am studying political science in Switzerland, because I want to be among the change and make a difference in my country, Its time for a real change and I am with you Ben Bruce Murray, I will love to meet you in person, though I live in Switzerland, but am following everything that happen in Nigeria, especially the political section. its really sad, A country bless with resources, but living like a beggar. I cote your word which said, “Poverty breeds anger and hunger, Hunger and anger breeds violence… and in the end we can not control it. We must be conscious of the people we lead.We need real changes. The problem in Nigeria is the rich vs the poor.The crisis is Nigeria is a class warfare. and I cote, “Nigeria is too rich to be poor and Nigeria is too poor to be rich”

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  32. I totally agree with JOSEPH IORNA…”My view is that restoration of grazing routes should not be part of the solution. Let herdsmen adapt to the current reality. Let them modernize by converting to ranching just as crop farmers were forced by circumstances to modernize by converting from old farming practices such as “shifting cultivation” to “crop rotation” and “use of fertilizers”. But I agree with you that this problem of hersdmen-clashes-with-locals needs to be urgently addressed. And I hope you and other government officials will not just talk about it but actually take action.”

    Like

  33. I totally agree with JOESPH IORNA….”My view is that restoration of grazing routes should not be part of the solution. Let herdsmen adapt to the current reality. Let them modernize by converting to ranching just as crop farmers were forced by circumstances to modernize by converting from old farming practices such as “shifting cultivation” to “crop rotation” and “use of fertilizers”. But I agree with you that this problem of hersdmen-clashes-with-locals needs to be urgently addressed. And I hope you and other government officials will not just talk about it but actually take action.”

    Like

  34. I totally agree with JOSEPH IORNA….”My view is that restoration of grazing routes should not be part of the solution. Let herdsmen adapt to the current reality. Let them modernize by converting to ranching just as crop farmers were forced by circumstances to modernize by converting from old farming practices such as “shifting cultivation” to “crop rotation” and “use of fertilizers”. But I agree with you that this problem of hersdmen-clashes-with-locals needs to be urgently addressed. And I hope you and other government officials will not just talk about it but actually take action.”

    Like

  35. Yes sir you are realy making common sence.

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  36. Gud day sir i appreciate ur gud work and word of integrity, Sir to me why nt use dat money in creatin reason jobs for the unempoyed graduates, creatin of industry like textile,petroleum, fashion and design,agricultural sector in the eastern part of nigeria, to me paying this amount of money can’t go along way in pple’s life, cous some of our politicians who are nt helping matter would just put the money into there pocket.So let the government use the money in creating jobs than payin such money to the graduate.

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  37. I tank ben for wonderful work and his advice to nigeria and bayelsa and also thanks for his common sense

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  38. God bless the Senator of the Federal republic of Nigeria. Sir indeed you are a leader we need more people like you in this our great country Nigeria.
    We hope to see you one day leading this country in the presidential seat.
    God bless you sir.

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  39. THIS SENSE IS NOT COMMON, SIR!

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  40. kudos to you sir. ben bruce, the only leader with great potentials for his country.

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  41. I strongly agree with Joseph Iorna. Restoration of grazing routes is no longer necessary, & should be done away with..Modern ranching method is a sine qua non towards overcoming this problem. Pastoralism is primitive & outdated. The Fulani should drop it right away. Their attitude is akin to daylight robbery, simplicita!

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  42. If only this administration would swallow its pride and accept some factual solution that you always suggest, Nigeria would be a place to be. Am one of your fan because of your ideas

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  43. I like u becaus of the sense u are making. That is great. Keep it up Hon.

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  44. Keep speaking sense into their common heads. I just want to be associated with common sense.

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  45. Present this to the federal government!

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  46. nice and interesting line Senator Bruce.

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  47. Sir you really spoke well this is more than common sense

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  48. i wish oneday u will become our president

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  49. We need positive and intellectual minds like Ben Bruce to pilot the affairs of this nation not blank minds. Bravo Senator Bruce

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  50. sir if this solution you proffer is not put on the floor of the senate and becomes a law then I think you are only making noise and wasting your time in the Senate.
    how many Fulani reads on internet?
    do bring these up on the senate and shout it loud

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    • An interesting read Sir, I must say. Howbeit, I’ve my reservations on some of your recommendations, one of which, is captured in a certain Joseph Iorna’s comment above. Alternative routes for these herdsmen, in my view, doesn’t or will not end the clashes, it will only extend it to another set of individuals. In addition, the use of tracking devices, I’m sorry to say will end up being inefficiently managed for the sole reason that this is Nigeria. I believe in the workability of tracking systems but am not really optimistic on its recommendation as it concerns Nigeria.

      The only feasible and sustainable recommendation so far is Ranching.

      Finally, these clashes seem to be more than just misunderstandings between indigenes and herdsmen, I’m trying to understand the level of misunderstanding that could possibly lead to loss of life.

      Methinks these herdsmen are still caught up in the medieval era where clashes between clans were seen as protecting ones right(s) and so killing members of other clans were just plain normal.

      Now, they must be enlightened and reintegrated into the modern society, to know that law enforcement agencies are in existence and that there are actual penalties for committing homicides, which we’ve seen them do in the past few years.

      Senate committee on security related issues has to look at this seriously cause it’s becoming widespread. Please Sir BMB keep abreast on this herdsmen security threat, we mustn’t be caught unawares again.

      Like

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