HERDSMEN VERSUS HEADS OF MEN: BENUE STATE TODAY AND ‘X’ TOMORROW

HERDSMEN VERSUS HEADS OF MEN: BENUE STATE TODAY AND ‘X’ TOMORROW

Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai

 

A cow was brought into our Church compound in the month of March in view of a celebration that was to be held. I looked at the Cow very closely and I wondered how this animal has become a political debate for politicians and a strategy for terrorists. As I was thinking about this, a chilled race went through my spine when I remembered some ugly pictures that recently surfaced on the internet; how Fulani Herdsmen slaughtered farmers; went into villages settled there and made the natives unsettled.  Just as if I can forge ahead with my other activities for the day my brain kept pondering on the state of the nation. On my part, I tried to size and price the cow I saw and I realized that in the market it will cost nothing less than N180,000; yet I wonder why will herdsmen load  their arsenals with AK47 Gun that is  about N 3, 000,000 each to protect their cattle. Hmmm! could it be that there are big political figures behind this?  How does the sale of cow contribute to the GDP of the Nation? If at all it does; does it worth the extinction and premature expiration of human life?

Herdsman (plural, herdsmen) refers to a Herder, a worker who lives a possibly semi-nomadic life, caring for various domestic animals. In those days, mutual relationship existed between farmers and herdsmen. Stories have it that farmers were given bush fowl by herdsmen, probably in exchange of water or some other temporal goods. Thus, very likely, herdsmen men were otherwise hunters. They led their cattle into green fields not peoples’ crops; they were known to be very sincere individuals who would desire the least harm for any farmer. Today the question is “what has heads of men done to herdsmen?

Conversely, in recent time, especially with the dawn of Boko Haram it has become very quick to hear, read and view from radio, magazines and televisions respectively the harm done by herdsmen. Regrettably, the Nation which just now is almost greeted with victory over Boko Haram insurgency is yet dragged to another war front with Fulani herdsmen. It appears to me that the dusk of the insurgency is the dawn of  Fulani herdsmen (Terrorist group). In fact, in the words of Mazi Ohuabunwa a Columnist in Vanguard “many objective watchers have declared that the now regular raids by the militant Fulani herdsmen are the biggest security threat facing Nigeria after Boko Haram”. Therefore, it is wise to read the hand writing on the wall and see clearly that this is a time for pro-activeness and not re-activeness. 

No doubt at its earlier stages, Fulani herdsmen and farmers clash was limited to the North East and North Central states; but in these latter days the intensity and regularity of the attack have maintained a steady crescendo swallowing up  most of the central and southern regions of the Nation.  There have been stories around some villages here in the South how some herdsmen pluck off the heads of men. For their flock they shatter God’s flock. The ill that happened in the North is a pointer; we must not always wait to learn from our mistakes. The mistake of others is a correction for the rest.  It is high time we started imploring measures not just ‘legislatively’ but ‘executively’ to ensure the safety of southerners. It was once said that when the law refuses them open grazing in the North they will take refuge in the South. Today, they graze humans and vegetables alike. Here in Edo State; the Auchi- Benin express has become a deadly trap for travelers. Our local roads within towns and even farm roads are not safe. Popular consensus shows that the population of the Fulani’s strangers in our neighborhood today has almost outmatched the indigenes. Therefore Southerners should be on their guard, no one knows the next “Benue”; Bornu; Yobe etc. No one knows the end of the season. We must wake up! We may not resort to violence even though we know that the Lamb of God is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah; we can watch and pray, station peaceful protest and provoke our leaders to action.

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Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria. He was ordained October 20th, 2018. He offers his daily homilies, talks and articles that bother on, faith, theology, morals and many other burning issues in religion and politics. Fr. Daniel writes poems, inspirational quotes and clips.

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