Nigeria’s”herdsmen” palaver: South vs. North divergent opinions & the easy solution- Tola Adenle

May 2, 2016



“Fulani herdsman”

No one can stop us from grazing in the south — Fulani – May 1, 2016.

The Punch carried a report of interview with herdsmen in different parts of Nigeria boasting that nobody can stop them from grazing their cattle in any part of Nigeria, “ESPECIALLY THE SOUTH”. The report added that herdsmen feel it is their constitutional right!


Mr. Nuru Abdullahi, described in the report as speaking for the Cattle Breeders Association, Plateau State, is quoted as saying, “nobody could deprive Fulani herdsmen of their constitutional right of free movement: Why would they ask them not to go to the southern part of the country? It is their constitutional right to move freely as guaranteed by the laws of the land. What the various governments and security agencies should do is to prevent attacks and counter-attacks and such things that breed violence like cattle rustling and trespassing into farmlands.”

I wonder which Constitution guarantees the free movement of some Nigerians AND their animals from one part of the country in ways that impinge on the right of other Nigerians from the rest of the country of their lands and livelihood.

Now, the drums of war are beginning to sound as groups from the East, West and other areas that have suffered from the devastation to farmlands, maiming, rape of women and killing that these Fulani herdsmen have wrought wherever they graze their cattle, continue unabated:

“Agbekoya gave the Federal Government a 14-day ultimatum to stop the incessant attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen on farmers in Yorubaland even as it vowed to retaliate any attack on its members.”

“MASSOB”, the pro-Biafra Group whose leader, Mr. Uchenna Madu was reported by Punch as saying: “Igbo people had been ‘talking and talking’ while they watched their people being killed, and that it was time for ‘action’ to end killings by herdsmen … Fulani herdsmen are cowards … If they mean business, Ndi’gbo will engage them man to man …”


IPOB, another Igbo secessionist group was reported in the same news story as alleging “that Boko Haram had been disguising as herdsmen to attack parts of the country.” 

Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria has also called on Buhari to act quickly, boldly and decisively.

The herdsmen  problem does not bode well for Nigeria’s so-called “unity” that’s always been described as “non-negotiable”.



Back in 2000, a widely-publicized story happened when Oyo State farmers reportedly retaliated and killed Fulani herdsmen when they decided enough was enough.

Hell was let loose, and the Arewa Consultative Forum sent a delegation to the state’s governor, Alhaji Lam Adesina; it was led by retired Generals Buhari and Marwa. “Compensation”, with nothing said about earlier killings which had been going on for years, as well as “stoppage of killings”, were two points central to the visit.



The governor, a [Southern] Muslim was very reasonable in his response to the Generals, appealing to them, nay, almost begging them to appeal to the herdsmen whom Lam referred to as “our people”, to be less aggressive. The governor also used their common faith, Islam, to wonder aloud if “they really believe in Allah when they just take life” as Islam forbids such acts.

Apart from organizations that have spoken out, here is the opinion of a Yoruba individual who read the story on the herdsmen here yesterday:

“… Now the shoe is on the other foot. The State governors of Benue, Oyo, Ondo and Enugu should ask the Association of cattle rearers, through President Buhari their spokesperson in 2000, for heavy compensations.

I vividly recall the visit of Buhari and Co. to Governor Adesina in 2000.

Today’s Punch [Sunday Punch of May 1] carries a very insulting and provocative rejoinder — an empty boast —- from this Cattle Rearers Association, that no one can stop them from grazing their cattle in the South.

I think this issue calls for a dispassionate national debate and resolution before the herdsmen become an even more deadly and more widespread version of Boko Haram.

Pray, what was the reason for the alleged burning of a Catholic Church in that Enugu State community where over 40 people were killed? Is this not adding a religious dimension to the unwarranted, most inhuman and vicious attack on innocent citizens. The blood of the slain is crying out for justice.

President Buhari urgently needs to be statesmanly enough to ensure that justice is done to the communities where such large scale massacre was brutally carried out by Fulani herdsmen, arrests made and the suspects dealt with according to the law.

These killings are causing a great deal of disaffection and resentment among the affected people.

A.  Ṣowunmi, Ibadan.


SOLUTION to this seemingly intractable problem is not difficult if belligerence is removed and replaced with the will to solve it.

Cattle owners in the country, including President Buhari, should get together and decide on a solution I’m sure they are all aware of. If a person can own dozens, and sometimes hundreds of cows, he should have the means to purchase land that would be demarcated and fenced off, especially in Northern Nigeria with its vast unpopulated areas. The cows would be restricted to grazing within the land holdings of their owners.

That is how it’s done in other countries.

Even in Nevada most of which is drier than any part of Northern Nigeria and lie in the Nevada desert, there are large cattle ranches. Man-made water supply means are used to flood plants like alfalfa that grow to feed the animals. They do not graze their cattle towards neighboring Utah, a state with more water resources.

Nigeria – at least cities in the South where cows are common sights in the streets and even residential areas – is beyond that medieval way of raising cattle. Right here in Ibadan, a city that has more people than many states in Nigeria, cattle cross busy streets at will and the herdsmen’s belligerence and nastiness at motorists who show impatience as far as these people are concerned these days may one day lead to unpleasant consequences.

The herdsmen have become more aggressive and sort of daring as they seem to display a sort of self-entitlement borne of, perhaps, confidence that nothing can happen to them no matter what they do.

It is good that Nigeria’s president is not only kinsman with the herdsmen but he is also a cattle owner as declared in his assets. He must show the leadership to his people by not only taking IMMEDIATE decisive steps to end the slaughter of people who challenge these murderous herdsmen but by setting up a huge ranch for his own cows if he does not already own one; it would be an example to others.

Finally, rather than letting his name be associated with any insane idea of a “grazing bill” which will be misappropriating other people’s land, he should educate his kinsmen through the cattle-owners’ association that the ONLY SOLUTION lies in people divesting themselves of part of their huge earnings on cow sales to pasture their herds.

When they are ready to sell, they can transport their cows South, the part of the country with the apparent huge population.

MONDAY, MAY 2, 2016. 7:15 p.m.[GMT]




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6 Comments on “Nigeria’s”herdsmen” palaver: South vs. North divergent opinions & the easy solution- Tola Adenle”

  1. Naijamum Says:

    One thing I know for sure is that I eat beef in other parts of the world but I have never seen cattle being grazed on main roads, motor ways/expressways or other peoples land. Why are simple things made unnecessarily difficult in Nigeria? and if you complain you will be branded as being unpatriotic.



    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear NaijaMum,

      Thanks for this, and where&how have you been? Hope the kids have not FINALLY gotten to know how to really get you mad, if I may put a twist on a kid I once taught who wrote an essay titled – believe it or not – “How to get your mommy really mad”!

      In Nigeria, might is right, especially when one looks at the matter of the cattlemen. I read in the papers about the fatal accident on the Lagos so-called “express” in which thirteen people lost their lives. Cause of accident? Herdsmen, naturally, took seriously their threat that no one can stop them from grazing in the south.

      President Buhari, where are you? Give teeth to your promise. These herdsmen AND the cattle owners are liable for loss of lives and properties and must be treated as such in law courts.

      Sincere thanks and regards,

      Liked by 1 person


      • Naijamum Says:

        The issue of the herdsmen is just one of the multitudes of problems plagueing Nigeria, including lack of consideration for fellow Nigerians from our leaders to we, the citizens and between citizens. This disturbs me so much I hardly want to talk about politics because when you think you have heard the worst, something hugely worse comes up. I give credit, ma, to God for the “liver” for still being able to discuss Nigerian politics and being able to draw people like us into it.

        The kids are fine, still as mischievous as ever but trust me, I am on top of the game (winking).


    • emotan77 Says:

      Me, neither, NaijaMum; I’ve never seen cattle grazing on city, town or village streets; airport tarmacs, highways, et cetera except in Nigeria.

      These herdsmen and their employers are hell-bent on keeping Nigeria in Medieval period, hence their vowing that none can stop them from grazing anywhere they like in the south.

      I’m sure they’ve played their very last card in the impunity not-funny game.


      Liked by 1 person


  2. folakemiodoaje Says:

    Land ownership is a topic that Nigerians don’t want to talk about, yet it can prevent needless conflicts across the country.

    I agree with your views here, the government with the vast knowledge and resources can do the ‘legwork’ to find areas where cattle owners can tend their cows without infringing in other’s space.

    This is one of the problems that should have been solved decades ago, now can longer be swept under the carpet, I hope this is dealt with thoroughly this time.



    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Folakemi,

      It is a problem crying out with urgent action on the part of government, especially first having those roving mostly-murderers disarmed. While govt should not be the one to secure grazing land for people who raise cattle for fat cats who make profits and can afford to be cattle owners who conduct their trade in modern and accepted civilized way – in ranches, government HAS to step forward in having these people reined in.

      How could herdsmen openly carry deadly AK-47 without getting arrested?

      If Buhari does not solve the problem of the herdsmen whose impunity – and the arms they carry are indicative of big backers – it would, finally, ring the desth knell for Nigeria.

      Sincere regards,

      Liked by 1 person


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