Finally the Miyetti Allah group is dressed in the borrowed robe of seriousness. It was only after the governors’ meeting in Akure on Monday that I heard of the new acronym by which this obvious supporter of terrorism is known. It is now officially MACBAN, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria. Nigeria!! The avowed shameless supporters of alleged murderers, kidnappers, rapists and freelance fatalities dealers are now recognized members of the Nigerian power elite. It has found a comfortable place at the forefront of power in the sanctuary of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.
I believe the Miyetti Allah group received their invitation to Akure because of two incidents that happened last week. First, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu was determined to enforce the laws of the state of Ondo. Second, was the rude entry into the power game by Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, a grassroots operator who openly questioned the occupation of northern Oyo State by elements of the Fulani who have been terrorist for many years. The governors of the Yoruba states seem to have finally risen from their slumber. They should know that they have the resources, especially traditional and scientific resources, to defend their ancestral lands.
The excuse for these constant provocations from the Fulani shepherds is that the Fulani are actually shepherds and the entire Nigerian estate is their ranch. Since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015, some of the Fulani leaders have armed some of the shepherds to enforce this right. A few years ago, a retired military service chief had built a large farm in Kwara state. His dream was to follow in the footsteps of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and become a farmer to be reckoned with. However, he did not count on the Fulani shepherds. They raided his farms, and their cattle trampled on suckling new plants. When he complained at the police station, they advised him to drink the water of patience.
The appearance of Igboho and his group is an indication that patience is running out. We are dealing with a different phenomenon and not the normal Fulani who took care of his livestock and took care of his business. For many generations, Fulani herders have been beating the soil of Yoruba and bringing cattle from the north. Yoruba love beef. They love parties and pay good money for their beef. The Yoruba also provided space for the Fulani to build their temporary settlements, which usually consist of adobe huts with thatched roofs. They produce the traditional yoghurt Wara for the neighboring communities and some of their men also sell traditional medicine. Everyone was happy about it.
In 1979, during his election campaign in Kano, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the presidential candidate for the Unity Party of Nigeria, promised to build a large slaughterhouse that could serve both Kano and Lagos. He said you need a fast-moving train that leaves Kano at night and arrives in Lagos at dawn with beef and other products. He said cattle roaming the country was “primitive”! Awolowo lost the election. The majority of Nigerians voted for Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the candidate for the Nigerian National Party, NPN, who made no promise to the people of Kano or Lagos. Shagari was the first Fulani to rule Nigeria.
Twenty years after Awolowo made his promise, Nigerians continue the primitive practice of open grazing for their cattle and other animals. This was the problem in the Ibarapa region of Oyo state when Alhaji Lam Adesina was elected governor. The Fulani in the Oke-Ogun area in Oyo state had quarreled with their host community and many people died in the fracas. Major General Muhammadu Buhari led a delegation of Nordic leaders to discuss the matter with Adesina. It was a heated encounter.
Some of my colleagues and I later met with Governor Adesina on the matter. We did not think it appropriate that citizens of independent Nigeria should die of cattle in the 21st century. Governor Adesina agreed that ranching is the answer and that after the election he will take appropriate steps to achieve this. He lost to Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja in 2003. There aren’t many ranches in Oyo or any other state in 2021, and Nigerians are still dying of cattle.
During the Obafemi Awolowo regime in the 1950s, the Western Region’s Minister of Agriculture, Chief Akin Deko, was a passionate official who realized that the future of large-scale animal husbandry must include ranching. Hence, the government of the western region established ranches all over the west. in Ibadan, Shaki, Agege, Ikun, Ikare and many other places. Today almost all ranches have disappeared. The only one that still works is Ikun’s in Ekiti State, which is operated by a private multinational corporation.
The negligence in implementing the policy has created a vacuum that offers criminals extensive opportunities. Since Buhari came to power in 2015, his regime has been unable to contain violence and lawlessness in the north. In the northeast, our military is confronting the cowardly terrorists of Boko Haram, who are embroiled in a war of harassment and chaos. In the northwest, a group of criminals has taken over a number of areas, including the president’s home state of Katsina. The situation is so dire that even the Nigerian Air Force is involved in the bombing of suspected criminal hideouts. I don’t know of any other country in the world where the Air Force is used for law enforcement purposes. This is the degeneration of Nigeria under Buhari’s watch.
Many of these criminal elements have now moved to southern Nigeria, particularly the forested parts of Yoruba country. It is sad that most of these criminal elements are from Fulani. It is these criminal elements that Miyetti Allah has now taken under his wing instead of focusing on the normal Fulani shepherds doing legitimate endeavors. Almost every Yoruba community has its own island of Fulani terror involved in criminal endeavors such as kidnapping, robbery, rape, and arson. The overall authority over this Fulani Archipelago of Terror is the Miyetti Allah with his shady leadership.
The Yoruba leadership must be made aware of the clear and present danger that the presence of this archipelago poses to politics. Therefore, the decisions agreed in Akure must be made in writing. Any person, whether Fulani, Yoruba or any other ethnic group involved in the livestock trade, must be known and properly registered by the authorities. The authorities should also know all legitimate members of the Miyetti Allah. All illegal residents of forest reserves must be flushed out. All those arrested should be prosecuted quickly and served with the menu of justice.
In the long run we can’t run away from the ranch. Our people are in love with beef, and beef doesn’t grow on trees. As such, the government shouldn’t be shy about showing more concern that the animals are properly raised in ranches. A few weeks ago I was visiting a private university near Ibadan to see hundreds of cattle on campus. I made my request and found out that they belong to Kabiyesi. Such impunity should no longer be tolerated.
Action must be taken immediately. The Sunday Igboho model may seem dramatic and romantic, but that may not solve all problems. But it would help solve an immediate problem. There are traditional ways to solve the criminal challenges that can arise from our continued love for beef. The governors should take note of this. It would be wrong for people to ask Buhari to help us solve a problem that we should solve ourselves.