Yoruba elders have rejected the idea of cattle colonies or grazing reserves being proposed by the Federal Government as a solution to the Fulani herdsmen killings across the country.
According to the elders, under the auspices of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), restructuring is the only way “the country can enjoy lasting and sustainable peace”.
President of the group, Chief Idowu Sofola (SAN), relayed the council’s position to reporters after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Ibadan on Thursday.
The YCE President stressed that cattle rearing is a business like any other business which requires that individual venturing into it must be prepared to face the challenges. He wondered why a private business should become a government business.
Chief Sofola maintained that the Federal Government has no control over land, pointing out that it cannot appropriate what does not belong to it. Hence, he insisted that those going into cattle rearing must approach the owner of land in any area they want to graze his cattle and negotiate on the agreeable mode of relationship between them and their landlord.
He flayed President Muhammadu Buhari’s remark that people were demanding a change of the presidential system when Nigeria was yet to practice it for 100 years.
He said: “How many people will live for 100 hundred years before making demand for a change of a system that has been found unworkable? Fortunately, some of us have lived to witness parliamentary system and can compare with the presidential system to know which one is better out of the two.
“What is more, nobody is even insisting on a particular system now. What people are saying is that let us all sit down and discuss what we want and what is considered suitable for all of us. But, for the President to discard a whole report of a confab organized by his predecessor leaves much to be desired. Nigeria belongs to all of us and government is a continuum.”
In his contribution, the YCE Secretary-General, Dr. Kunle Olajide, maintained that restructuring is the only panacea to all anomalies confronting the country, stressing that creating cattle colonies or grazing reserves “is just an adhoc arrangement that cannot bring about lasting solution to the problem”.
Dr. Olajide described as paradoxical the call on Nigerians by President Buhari to diversify the economy by embracing agriculture on one hand and the encouragement of herdsmen to continue destroying farmlands, adding, “it doesn’t work that way. There must be a holistic approach to whatever problems identified in the country’’.
Part of the communiqué issued after the meeting reads: “YCE is alarmed that the leadership of an association Myetti Allah [the umbrella body of Fulani herdsmen] who had openly been issuing threats have not been questioned. The kid glove treatment of Myetti Allah speaks volume about the neutrality of the Presidency on this matter.
“YCE is also disturbed by the apparent insensitivity of some political leaders to the current worrisome situation in the country. Barely 24 hours after the gruesome murder in Benue State, a group of governors appeared on National Television, endorsing President Buhari for 2019 election in violation of INEC regulations and completely ignoring the fact that the Nation was still mourning. We urge our leaders to exercise restraint and act more responsibility in these difficult times”, the communiqué stated further.
The YCE, also known as ‘Igbimo Agba Yoruba’ stressed that “a centrally controlled security outfit cannot effective in a heterogeneous multi-cultural country like Nigeria”, adding, “the security outfit must be decentralized soonest (an important aspect of the envisaged restructuring).
On President Buhari’s New Year broadcast, the YCE observed that the President dampened the people’s spirits, instead of evoking hope.
It said: “YCE believes that the dysfunctional geo-political structure is the root cause of the nation’s woes and the situation is further complicated by the wasteful system of government which is defective and which compels corruption by breeding mental and physical indolence.
“The nation definitely is in pains, the nation is definitely squeaking, the nation is obviously groaning, silence cannot be golden at these times, in fact, it will be criminal to keep quiet. Delay is dangerous, we call on President Buhari, a national leader to rise to the occasion and make a national broadcast to the people, calming frayed nerves, heralding hope and confidence in his administration in order to lower the political temperature”.