By Engineer Mohammed Abba Gana, (CON)
Former Minister for the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) puts pen to paper on what he thinks should be done in the event of the post-Shasha violence
- Three categories of the Fulanis can be identified. These are the settled and well integrated/assimilated Fulanis into other ethnic groups, the herdsmen or nomads and the bandits. Within the sedentary/settled group of Fulanis, you will find the highly educated, moderately educated, artisans or those with some kind of vocational education. There are Fulanis of distinction in the civil/public service at all levels of government. A good example is Alhaji Ahmed Joda, former Federal Permanent Secretary and also former chairman, National Communication Commission, (NCC) as well as current Pro-Chancellor of Bell University, Ota; Alhaji Musa Bello, Permanent Secretary for Finance in the Northeastern State before he moved to the Federal Ministry of finance as Permanent Secretary. Both of them are still alive and proud Fulanis. There are many others, such as Prof. Iya Abubakar who had 1st Class in Mathematics from the University of Ibadan and went to U.K. to get his Ph.D Mathematics, becoming the first northerner to get a Ph.D. in that discipline. He was V.C of ABU, Zaria and Minister for Defense in the 2nd Republic as well as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Also a great Fulani academic, politician and public administrator is Prof. Jubrin Aminu, well-known cardiologist. He also graduated from the University of Ibadan and went to U.K. for higher studies and specialization. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Minister for Petroleum and later Education before becoming a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The great late Brigadier Zakaria Maimalari, the 1st Sandhurst trained military officer in the Nigerian is also a good example of settled, integrated/assimilated Fulani. His family is in Maimalari/Yusufari District of former Borno Province, now in Yobe State. Alhaji Bamanga Tukur is another distinguished Fulani who has contributed a lot to the political, economic and business development of Nigeria. Alhaji Bukar Abba Ibrahim, a well-known quantity surveyor and builder is also born of settled Fulani father and Kanuri mother. I am not sure whether he speaks Fulfude well but his father came to settle in Goniri in Yobe State, decades ago. Bukar Abba Ibrahim had been governor of Yobe State for nearly 10 years and Senator for about 12 years. We used to call him Bukar Fulata when he was a fine, small boy in Goniri Primary School. All this shows that the nomadic Fulanis were a wasted generation. This should not be allowed to continue. We must settle them along with their cattle and educate them and train them to be part of the human civilization. Therefore it’s a matter of regret that the political elite particularly from the northern part of Nigeria have allowed the nomadic Fulanis to live in their wild, ancient and unprogressive culture outside the human civilization and now causing tension and threatening national security.
- There are many other towns in Borno and Yobe states that are mainly Fulani like Gumsa, Jajere, Ngelzarma, Kollere, Jakusko etc. The Fulanis in Borno and Yobe states speak Kanuri very well, speak their own Fulfude and Hausa. And they are all highly educated. They participate in public service, politics, business, commerce etc, like any ethnic groups in Nigeria. But the time has come for all the settled Fulanis of distinction to join other patriots of distinction and the Federal Government along the state governments to give support to the National Assembly’s ban on this ancient nomadic culture, which has now generated so much base sentiments causing political instability.
- The nomadic Fulanis are called the herders. They are like the migratory birds. They do not stay or live in one place. Some move from country to country, state-to-state and region-to-region, looking for grasslands and water sources for their cattle. The real nomadic Fulani is friendly, simple minded, witty and intelligent and they know everything about the cattle and the forest they live in. They do not make many demands from the governments at all levels as a matter of right once they have water and vegetation for the cattle to feed. They may look lean/thin and hungry but they have strong muscles. Because they are always on the move and mostly in the forests, they are missing the opportunity in getting education, scholarship, science, technology, the arts etc. And so, cannot contribute to human progress and civilization unlike their settled cousins who are highly integrated/assimilated through long periods of inter ethnic, marriages, commerce, trade and education and cultural diversification.
- Therefore in this 21st century, all the member countries of the African Union must resolve to end this ancient and unprogressive culture called nomadic way of life. It’s unkind and even costly for the rest of human civilization to leave them behind. This is particularly so in our country, Nigeria where recent happenings show that this nomadic vocation has already become a serious source of political instability. Ending this ancient nomadic practice is a win-win game for all concerned – good for the Fulani nomads and their cattle and good for rest of the country.
- In this 21st century with increasing population putting pressure on available land and water resources we must create cattle/livestock production systems which are efficient and already being used in many countries of the world. Already Nigerian population is one of the fastest growing in the world. And this additional population needs land for housing, agricultural crops production, schools, hospitals, offices, industries, markets, and enough water for domestic and industrial/commercial use additional to agricultural crop production as well as livestock/poultry production etc. With increasing population and decreasing available land and water resources, it is said that there will be increasing tension and even war among communities and countries for the control of available land and water resources. Therefore, Nigerian leaders at all levels must wake up and urgently attend to land and water resources matters because they have become matter of life and death for many, many people all over the country.
- About 75% of Nigeria’s landmass is in the 19 states and FCT, all in the northern part of the country. And the 17 states of the southern part live on the 25% or so of the landmass of Nigeria. Even this 25% is threatened by oil exploration, oil spilling, ocean surge or rising sea levels because of climate change and also gully erosion, diminishing a lot of available land. As a result of misplaced priorities and absence of good governance for a long time in the northern part, some of the northern states could not stop the devastating desert encroachment in goodtime. From now on, aggressive afforestation/reforestation must be also a priority of the far north states. As we in the north live on about 75% of Nigeria’s landmass, it’s not at all reasonable to insist on using the diminishing 25% of the land in the south which they are now resisting.
- The third and last group of Fulanis – those involved in widespread banditry and kidnapping – is not large in numbers. Banditry and kidnapping are criminal acts under the law. And in all ethnic groups and religious groups, some bandits and kidnappers exist. As such, Fulani bandits and kidnappers should be arrested and prosecuted just like those in all other ethnic groups without any exception. Some Fulanis who have lost their cattle or employment to cattle rustling and millions of unemployed youths of other ethnic groups under the influence of hard drugs have created the current kidnapping and banditry industry. The idle mind is, they say, the devil’s workshop. We must restructure our economy and run our economy such that not many people are left behind. As things are now, just too many people are left behind for comfort. Government all over the world exists for the primary purpose of providing security and welfare for the vast majority of the people. The benchmark given by Stuart Mill, British philosopher and social reformer, should be applied henceforth in Nigeria. He said, “the goodness of an action (or policy) is measured by the amount of happiness it produces in the vast majority of the people within a given jurisdiction”.