By Fenny Fwa
In my entire sojourn here on earth which has reached sixty years, I have never been worried, feeling dejected and frustrated, traumatized with herders/ Farmers infighting that has taken valuable lives, destroyed properties worth billions of Naira and displaced thousands of innocent citizens. The most disturbing and worrisome aspect of this is to see people who have lived peacefully together for several decades, some have lived for close to a century are now sworn enemies being at each other’s throat and killing each as if they don’t mean anything to them.
With the recent calm in this infighting as not much of clashes are heard in flash points of Taraba, Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna, plateau and Nasarawo states, I think one can safely say kare ya gaji, zumo ya gaji( the hunter and the hunted are all tired). I’m speaking from experience as I have been physically in war front on two different occasions. I have seen mutilated dead bodies. I narrowly escaped being hurt or kill when two herdsmen shot at my vehicles and missed the target. A boy from my locality threatened my life with a spear. He was able to come close to me because I used motorcycle having released all my vehicles to be used to assist in the mayhem and together with journalist from Channels and TVC which I brought to cover the attacks. With his spear in hand ready for action, I didn’t show any sign of fear and even dared him to carry his threat, but chickened out. So I have seen all to warrant reiterating my stance on peaceful co existence which a lot of people think is a sign of weakness and treachery. I thank God for giving me the courage to go round the aggrieved villages and explaining my position at the risk of my life. That I believe in self defence and had assisted in protection and preservation of the land which is not negotiable. What I frowned at is attacking innocent people that are not involved because of their faith and religion. I belong to the same school of thought of the Imam that saved over three Christians lives in plateau state . There was also an elderly woman in Borrong that saved about 10 Muslims in her house. She barricaded the gate and told the rampaging Youth that these people have lived with us for decades peacefully and therefore do not deserve to be killed and if they insist they must first of kill her before they kill them.
Some of my aids,on my instruction, used my vehicles and convey some of the Muslims in the middle of the night to Numan. I’m happy my stance that I’m being vilified for is gradually being understood with by the locals and no distant future we shall in enjoy peace, but in our own terms without compromising our territorial integrity.
We must find away out of this tragic occurrences that have stifled, stunted our growth and our much cherished peaceful coexistence. My take on this relative peace being enjoyed now must be sustained and consolidated, but this cannot be achieved without taking some far reaching proactive measures. These are some of the measures that should be adopted.
All areas that are prone to attack must be earmarked and all parties to in the dispute must be brought together to forgive each other and deliberate reconciliation process must be put in place. All paramount rulers, elites, top government officials in the area should drive this reconciliation process with government as prime mover of the peace process.
Any body that foment trouble should be immediately reported to law enforcement agencies in the local area and the matter be reported to paramount ruler of the area. Government should establish a situation room in the office of the Governor where such sensitive issues are treated with despatch.
Because of the clashes have been regular occurrences, the flash points be identified and a strong detachment of armed forces be deployed in the areas for quick intervention. Paramount rulers should be given the power to monitor the performances of the cracked team of these soldiers to ensure that they are impartial and do not terrorize the locals. Security agents involved in such acts must be severely punished to serve as deterrents to others.
Herders must be encouraged to stop nomadism, settled down and engage in modern cattle rearing. Dr Nura Alkali has made a case for that and I think other fulani elites should encourage this trajectory for permanent solution to this predicament of the herders.Communities that have their properties destroyed should be identified and loses compiled and thereafter they are compensated.
Government must at all times be decisive and deal with those that foment trouble without showing an element of favoritism.
Something must be done to umbrella organizations that rather than finding ways and means of resolving conflicts between warring factions fuel it. I’m irked particularly with dubious role of Myetti Allah that always justify the attacks of the herders and security agencies fail to arrest them as if they are an untouchable organization. Based on my experience, the group capitalize on haplessness of the ignorant herders by overtaxing them for waging of war. Whenever they fall foul of the law they again tax them in order to purportedly free them. The behaviour of this group lives much to be desired as they contribute negatively to mayhem being experienced.
Finally I want to come to my topic ie adopting the Mandela trajectory. What is Mandela trajectory. It’s very simple: it’s akin to that of Jesus: forgiveness and reconciliation. Despite the fact that apartheid was the worst form of discrimination after slavery,I can even say apartheid was worse because in the case of slavery the land of slaves were not appropriated, but in the case of apartheid, the South African lands were forcefully taken away from them and were oppressed, exploited and force to work on their land as labourers. Here was their leader, Nelson Mandela. Jailed for solid 27 years for championing the cause of his people and kept in solitary confinement that was subhuman. I have been Robbin island twice. His room was six feet by six feet. No space for relaxation and no toilet as he had to use bucket kept in small room as his toilet. But when he secured independence, he didn’t embark on revenge as it was the case with Robert Mugabe, but he did all he could to stop his people- the blacks who wanted to revenge the atrocities committed against them. He did remarkably well to reconcile the aggressors and the aggrieved.
Thanks to Mandela that South Africa is relatively peaceful and because of that there is relative economic growth and prosperity. That is trajectory I want us in this part of the country to follow. Despite the painful nature of the aftermath of the conflicts because a lot of people have lost their loved ones, lost a lot of properties, have become destitute, we must imbibe the Mandela trajectory and move on with life.