Letter To President, 36 Governors By Akim Yusuf


Dear Mr President and the 36 Governors,

Your Excellencies,

I usually dislike long write-ups, but I think this is necessary.

What i think Your Excellencies and your teams appear to have not properly dimensioned in this national security situation is that we have more than one “Fulani” problem. The matter goes deeper and is multi-layered that grazing routes, open grazing, herdsmen-farmer clashes etc cannot provide a single be-all understanding of the issues.

1. We have the problem of legitimate (nomadic) herdsmen who move across the country in search of greener pastures;

2. We have the problem of careless, entitled or emboldened herdsmen who decide that their cows have rights to devour any vegetation, wild or cultivated, hence have no respect for farmers’ crops.

3. We have a problem of possession of illegal firearms (AK47’s) and the possibility of Well-armed herdsmen militia groups who go to inflict violence when farmers react to crops destruction.

4. We have the problem of habitual criminals among the herdsmen (as with every ethnic group) who take delight in rape and robbery especially since they have weapons of intimidation (swords and AK47’s).

5. Then, we have the organised crime problem of the rustlers who violently steal herds of cattle. This rustling probably necessitated the acquisition of illegal weapons by legitimate herdsmen.

6. Lastly, we have the lethal problem of the bandits who have no business with cattle or farms or grazing routes or open grazing. They are only interested in kidnapping, mass abductions and invasion & sacking of villages as their own sources of livelihood. They inhabit forests and ride motorcycles. They possess military-grade weapons apparently stolen from Libya after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi

These problems are related but not totally connected. The solutions to each of these may overlap but there can be no one-size-fits-all.

The solutions are not as simplistic as banning open grazing or reopening grazing routes.

First, we must encourage and let the nomadic Fulani realise that the world has moved far beyond nomadic animal husbandry. Ranching and pasturing are the clear ways forward.

In adopting ranching, government at all levels (especially the Federal Government) must avoid legislated or Gazette “land-grabbing”. Ranching land must be negotiated and paid for. Simple! And no State, Local Government or village/town must be compelled to accept ranches if the people do not approve. We are in a democracy.

For the individual crimes of crop destruction, rape, assault etc; the Police and other local law enforcement and arbitration channels must be allowed to work without interference or impediments.

Everyone in possession of illegal arms (not just herdsman) regardless of ethnicity, must be given a time window to surrender their arms and ammunition after which more compelling actions will be taken by law enforcement agents.

For the bandits, we require drastic action by joint-agency (Armed forces, Police; DSS and NSCDC) operations to comprehensively comb all illegally occupied and operating forests to neutralise bandit and terror cells based in them.

After that massive operation, properly-equipped forest rangers must be deployed to patrol all forests nationwide to ensure that we do not leave those large thickets of vegetation for vagabonds.

It is apparent that Nigeria is under-secured, this is the right time to increase the size and operational deployment of the Police and the NSCDC more than the armed forces.
Our need at this time is internal security.

I hope this helps our decision-making.

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