Frank Oshanugor

What has become historical as ‘Asaba Declaration’ of May 11, 2021 wherein the 17 Southern Governors unanimously agreed to ban open grazing of cows in their states by Fulani herdsmen has unarguably become one landmark decision that holds a lot of issues for the continuous existence or otherwise of Nigeria as a country.

Since the communique from the meeting which was largely novel in the annals of the history of states in the Southern part of the country became public, voices have started echoeing from different parts of the country.  While majority of Nigerians particularly of Southern extraction see the decision of their Governors as the best thing that has ever happened in the present political dispensation, some voices from the North have complemented the governors’ decision.

If media reports quoting some section of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) as urging their members in Southern States to start relocating to the North to avoid having issues with the governments of the Southern States is anything to go by, it means a new dawn is here.

The Arewa Consultative Forum Chairman, Audu Ogbeh was also quoted in the media as having welcomed the Southern Governors’ ban on open grazing.  He has called on the Northern Governors to take advantage of the Southern Governors’ position by creating ranches for their cattles in northern states.

In the same vein, the Middle Belt Journalists Forum has called on their political representatives to support the Southern Governors’ position as the ban on open grazing will reduce the chances of killer herdmen attacking and killing people in the Southern States.

Voices are resonating every where in support of the Southern Governors decision not to allow open grazing in their states. Even from Nigerians of Southern extraction in the Diaspora, support has been coming in, applauding the decision because from intents behind it, the Governors had spoken in a manner that suggested the long awaited restructuring has begun in disguise.

Since the spate of insecurity increased from one level to another across the length and breadth of the federation and made worse by the invasion of every part of the country particularly North Central and the Southern parts of the country, the call for restructuring has been high pitched.  More vocal voices have come from the South as the Fulani herdsmen have been more vicious and annihilative in their tendencies.  

Their penchant to take over every available  farm land in the South with impunity and dare devilish audacity with the attendant murderous acts visited on their host communities unarguably led to the wide spread agitation against open grazing.

Before the Southern Governors’ recent decision to ban open grazing, many lives have been lost in the hands of the masquerading  Ak47 Fulani herdsmen.

It was in an attempt to checkmate such inhuman acts against humanity that the governors of the South West States established Amotekun to protect the people of Southwest. Governors of the Southeast were immediately to do so, but never did until the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPoB) took up the challenge to set up an operational arm known as Eastern Security Network (ESN) to protect people of the Southeast from the masquerading Ak47 wielding Fulani herdsmen.  The Southeast Governors fearing where the ESN was headed subsequently came up with Ebubeagu as a zonal security network.  The birth of Ebubeagu has not helped matters since its creation as the insecurity situation in the Southeast got worsened.

It is however a welcome development that with the Southern Governors’ ban on open grazing, the herdmen who have over time remained enfant terrible would beat a retreat from the farm lands they have been ravaging all along.

If the herdsmen could listen to the voice of reason and relocate out of the Southern farm lands back to the North, as the ban on open grazing which will soon be backed up with legislation will help the already tensed situation.

 

With an anti-open grazing law in place and its enforcement in the various Southern States, the vicious Fulani herdsmen would have no choice but to leave except they choose the alternative of pushing to occupy the lands by force. This, I do not think will be a better option for them as the indigenous people of the Southern States would not allow them to have their way in the new dispensation

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