Over the weekend, suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked Gwari village in Niger state leaving at least 4 people dead and several others injured.
On Monday, according to reports by Channels TV, over 81 villagers had been killed by suspected herdsmen in Benue state in the past one week. This is in a shadow of the infamous Agatu massacre in the same state that left at least 400 people dead.
In 2016 alone, the attacks credited to the rampaging herdsmen are countless spreading across rural settlements in many states across the country, leaving one question to be asked by any concerned observer; what is the government doing about this menace?
For starters, the government chose the most obvious path to seeking a solution- the idea of creating grazing routes for the herdsmen to feed their cattle or earmark landed properties in choice places across the nation for grazing (National Brazing Bill).
The options, both of them in actuality, lacked depth and the capacity to deal precisely with the problem that the nomadic herdsmen pose to rural dwellers.
Most often, the feud between the herdsmen and the rural dwellers stems from the theft of cows by the villagers or the trespassing on farmlands by the grazing cows who destroy most of the farmers’ crops.
Creating a grazing reserve or route would still not address the problem of cattle-rustling which most often than not is the trigger to the mayhem wrecked by avenging herdsmen. The herdsmen value their cows as one would value a collection of rare stones and would therefore meet any threat to their herds with complete and utter violence and chaos.
While it is quite disappointing that the options for solutions the government came up with only at best addresses the surface of the problem- grazing sites for the nomadic herdsmen, it is even more disheartening that even though hundreds of rural dwellers have been killed by herdsmen in 2016, the government still has not prosecuted or made any attempt to make these violent perpetrators face the full wrath of the law.
In keeping mute over the prosecution of these herdsmen, the government is only giving a silent nod that can be appropriated as approval of their dastardly acts which inadvertently will only spur them on to seek bloody revenge whenever they feel wronged.
It is the duty of the government to ensure security of lives and property of each citizen under its watch, either rural dweller or herdsmen. What Nigeria has witnessed so far however, is a complete dereliction of the government’s responsibility to protect both the herdsmen, their cattle as well as the villagers and their farmlands.
The solution to this menace posed by the caustic relationship between villagers and nomadic herdsmen has been discussed extensively for years in the country.
Can the current government find a lasting solution to this problem?
John Elnathan, an award winning writer of Nigeria descent was part of a conference that was called to investigate the unending feud between villagers and herdsmen by the Office of the National Security Adviser when Colonel Sambo Dasuki was in charge.
The committee was also mandated to come up with viable solutions to the problem.
Through his Twitter handle, @Elnathan_john, the writer revealed that despite the gloomy and solution-defying clouds cast over the herdsmen problem, if only the government would sincerely delve into the many reports submitted by different committees on the matter- a long lasting solution would be reached.