Well of course the Fulani are victims. Just like we all are.
The Fulani have lost their immemorial abundant grazing reserves and routes. Desert encroachment, deforestation, modernization, increased urbanization and sheer greed have challenged the herder lifestyle of these West and central African semi-nomads. Their migrations into hinterlands with their millions of Naira herds constitute greater challenges every day. And don’t get it wrong; they don’t migrate south, running into and in-through more and more developed and utilized lands for fun, they need to in keeping with the seasons as fodder and water gets scarce in the north.
So, facing the consequences of a national population that has quadrupled in the last half-century, with increased competition for dwindling dwelling, arable and grazing land and the challenges of more sophisticated banditry –including extremes like Boko Haram – in a nation that has failed to grow its security departments in parallel, the Fulani are victims with many having nothing of wealth to pass on to their young. The youth who typically carry on the herder legacy with hundreds of cows worth tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, are now unemployed and restive.
But Who Is Not?
So while we agree that the Fulani are victims, the question is, who is not? Apart from the politician class and their cabal friends who get it all including what they do not need, the rest of us are all victims just as well.
The inhabitants of the Niger Delta who lived off of the land and sea have lost this too to oil exploration. Their lands are polluted and poisoned as are their waters. They too have lost their primordial ways of life.
The farmers in Borno and much of the north are victims too as urbanization and then deforestation with desertification takes over. Lake Chad, a source of water for not just the herders but over 4 million that includes farmers and fishermen in four countries have likewise lost their means of sustenance.
But not just those who live off the land, 80% of Nigeria’s population, the destitute population living under a dollar-a-day are without a promise of decent livelihood. The failures of successive governments have deprived the citizens of Nigeria, especially its youth the stability and comfort of meaningful application of themselves in rewarding employment. We all are victims of change and a failed country. We all are robbed by thieves, armed robbers and politician and military pen thieves. Should we all resort to terror?
The ‘Victim’ Tale Of Boko Haram And MEND
When Boko Haram started its campaign of calumny, their initial messages were an alleged crusade against government corruption and ‘Boko,’ or ‘western civilization’ which they blamed for the government corruption, oppression and the inequality and poverty it caused. For those who remember, this was the initial agenda of Boko Haram and their first rally call: to save the people from the corrupt western influenced government agents.
Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND said the same thing: we are victims, we cannot fish and farm anymore and it is due to the wicked and inconsiderate people taking over our land, excavating it of its resource and depriving us of the benefit. To this end, we will economically terrorize till our rights are protected and our emancipation cemented.
The victims of the terror are hardly the politicians and military leadership behind the failure to ensure the promise for all from the abundant land and resource God has blessed Nigeria with. The victims north, south, east, west and nomadic make new double-victims from among co-victims in revenge of their deprivement and disenfranchisement.
If things were properly planned and cognizantly approached, grazing routes will be the least commitment. Indeed America has thousands of acres of protected grazing reserves. Grazing reserves are more for the survival of the ecosystem than for the occasional herders who ply them. Nigeria cannot do without such contiguous protected land reserves. What do we wish to become? A concrete jungle? But the reason why even this tiny commitment becomes irritating is because of the flummoxed and befuddled disposition of successive administrations. Why initiate a reward in response to terror? The offer of grazing lands as a reward for terrorism just does not humor the neurons. Deal with terror and address the various needs of the needy populace, including grazing solutions as an independent mission.
Should The Rest Of Us Victims Kill Too?
We are all victims. Because I lost my job and means of livelihood; because the errors of Jonathan and Buhari made my dollar-based business collapse and condemned me to millions of dollars debt as the naira lost half its value, does not mean I need to buy a pulp action gun and go kill a cabal or hire mercenaries to run them over on my behalf. Indeed the cabal and their politician partners who are still in business with access to dollars at the CBN rate, the ‘those who can afford it’ government-advantaged few, as Buhari referred to them who can still afford to get government rate dollars to pay their tuition abroad, are my identified enemies. But I will not pick up an AK47 and fire at them and burn down their houses. No. I will not resort to kidnapping the affluent. Whether I like it or not, as a civilized being, I will go to the courts and pray to my God and fight and wait for justice. I will protest and encourage those who know how to protest to do so. I may relocate or try to learn a new –non violent– trade while waiting for justice. But as a victim I will not become a terrorist and terrorize both innocent and guilty new victims because I lost my livelihood. Or I become a terrorist and a barbarian and an oppressor too who makes victims.
Dr. Peregrino Brimah; @EveryNigerian