Perry Brimah: Grazing reserves – My advice to the South east Chairman of CAN

by Perry Brimah


You do not have the legal or moral right to simply deny these elements of our society, some of whom have traversed these areas before our ancestors first settled there; the right to exist.

It was with bewildering shock that we read the headline of your message in Vanguard of 29th March and disappointment when we read the contents.

The headline in question was: “S/E CAN warns: We’ll resist Fulani cattle rearers.” You can imagine our shock to think that you were instigating and promoting such a dangerous message and potential situation. Deadly violence comes from not much more than these and we do realize that our professions are our possessions.

But reading the post, dear esteemed Bishop David Eberechukwu; though our worst fears were suppressed a bit, realizing that this intolerance was not what you meant, we remained taken-aback by your actual advertisement and had to make a public interjection.

Firstly, you do realize how, by selecting a dangerously misleading caption, either done by you or the editorial, your message is inadvertently promoting resistance and violent clashes with Fulani grazers in the South from this very day? Public speakers must be alert as to the vast consequences of their talk. The words we say today, some carelessly, without clear thought, are the fuel and impetus of the deaths and wars of tomorrow, most especially in this social media age. We do hope it is possible for you to retract this erroneous caption for some repair this will proffer.

Secondly, as to your actual position: not allowing the allotment of grazing reserves for Fulani cattle rearers in the S/E; and promoting demonstrations against these. We would like you to consider your duty and obligation as a member of the Nigerian nation. Is this position and publication your right as a Nigerian citizen and man of God? You apparently justified this extremist advertisement by referring to the ‘refugee’ relocation South easterners back home. We do realize there is scarcity of land in the south east and south as a whole, which is only approximately one fifth of Nigeria’s total land mass, however do you truly understand the percentage of south easterners who are happily welcome in the north? I know you appreciate the hospitality towards the majority of south easterners doing business and enjoying life across the north and do realize that only a tiny fraction of this thoroughly spread, great peoples have returned home. You are not agitating for a situation where all ethnic groups go to their tents as this will be unbiblical and un-national and no doubt, a tough challenge in areas withlimited land. I believe you do realize that Boko Haram is a national problem that affects all ethnicities and religious groups; and is a problem that all groups are joining hands to fight. You do realize that it is not only south easterners that have fled the carnage that our inept government has permitted in the north; over 3 million Nigerians have fled those parts, many to Chad, Niger, etc., and these are Nigerians of all ethnicities, mostly not southeastern. Hence a discussion of impacts of our government sustained state of insecurity has little bearing on refugee status of ‘your’ people and all peoples affected by insecurity in the nation. We, who fear God, must rather push for the wicked and evil government to arrest and punish all mob killers and stop protecting, dining with and sponsoring terror and sponsors of terror.

It was also seen in your article that you insinuated that rape by Fulani cattle rearers was a big problem. Was this statement intended? Can you furnish us the factual numbers of victims of this rape over all time? Were all the cases established and do you have reliable witnesses of these cases?  Is it possible that a lack of enforcement to capture and lockup all rapists regardless of profession or ethnicity is to blame for such issue, or do you actually believe that the unknown number of such possible, actual events is reason to promote this phobia? Can you refer to the numbers for rape, robbery and adult and infant murder by your believed ethnic bracket, of all peoples and see if this is not more reason for you and yours to be feared, by your logic and if you do not appreciate and respect those who do not suggest similar hostilities based on these actual, worrying numbers in other parts? There may be something that can help your faithful position and behavior that you can learn from the tolerance of/in other parts, perhaps.

We must go back to the main issue of grazing reserves, so we do not remain distracted with unverified reports of criminality that no persons or groups have a monopoly over and must not be reason for discrimination and promotion of phobia and genocides by neither commoners nor priests, but rather are reasons why we all must battle our government which fails to give the proper punishment for all criminals and is so entrenched in corruption, it fails to provide us the barest security we need.

Dear eminent leader, do you realize that until and unless Nigeria is divided into pieces, we are One nation and our leaders and elders are required under the law to promote national causes and are criminals under law and God if they promote ethnic causes over the national? It will be preferred you fight for a cause for Federalism or disintegration first. If these complex paths are possibly, successfully worked out, then you can claim ethnic and zonal causes over national and this will not be a sin, however by your pledge to Nigeria and you obligation under God, such right now is nether your, nor my right.

If grazing pastures will protect a very important history of Africa and our agricultural industry and ecological environment, is this not to be considered with proper compensation for lands leased? If such grazing reserves will at last keep cattle rearers out of the path of angry farmers and cattle rustlers, should such not be hastily, sincerely examined in the hope of securing life and promoting tolerance? Nigeria’s government fails to protect the nation’s ecological climate; in America there are protected grazing reserves and grazing, nomadic routes. Nigeria’s government is meant to provide solutions for these people, which include irrigated-water supplied pastures and grazing routes. Urbanization and vain greed has seized a path that has been tread by these cattle rearers whose only ‘crimes’ were the fact that unlike your ancestors, they refused to demarcate a spot of land as theirs, and refused to lay edifices on the land, but rather preferred to roam at peace with land and the people. In a sense, just as farmers ran around plots nearby villages they settled at and called it theirs, the nomads look across the land, top to bottom and called all the free spaces theirs too, long before states were created. I’m just saying, think deeply about the processes of first ownership of lands to build on, farm and graze…and even drill for oil.

Rather than fight cows, we should join hands to protect the fishes and fish-farmers too in the Niger Delta, whose water is polluted and profession lost to money and deadly urbanization and the quest for a western, vain material lifestyle with every government thief and partner building monuments with more rooms than they can ever inhabit in their villages. The great prophet Noah took man and animal unto his ark. Do we love our land and sea animals? Why then do we wish to choke them of land and poison their waters? We do know that the grazing routes were not made by the nomads, but by the Cattle. The nomads simply followed their annual migration. These are things to think about, till we have modernized farming in Nigeria where there can be fodder feeding and artificial water supply options.

You do not have the legal or moral right to simply deny these elements of our society, some of whom have traversed these areas before our ancestors first settled there; the right to exist. We must all work with our government and make concessions to permit life, love, equality, justice and peace. Even if Nigeria disintegrates, I am convinced that the government of the South eastern zone (the five states region you refer), will cooperate with the north and lease land to create grazing passes and paths in return for certain compensation from the areas that need such geographical utility.

I support a true quest if from the majority for true Federalism or disintegration; however as a nation today, we must respect each other and work together without promoting phobia and death. Thank you.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.


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