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‘I am a Fulani herdsman’

"I was given a cow for every milestone in my life.

I am a Commander (rtd) of the Nigerian Navy. I am a Senator. I am a Fulani herdsman. I am, therefore, many things in one person.

I was given a cow for every milestone in my life. I was given cows at birth. I was given cows when I completed my Quranic studies. I was given cows when I got married. My father gave me a herd of cows about 20 years ago when I became a ‘full adult’ in his eyes.

I, therefore, became a herdsman by virtue of inheritance. The cows in my family have been with us for over a century. We know the lineage of each cow. Some of the cows recognise us. I have never killed any person. The narrative that I am a killer is, therefore, wrong.

I have been told recently to leave Oyo and Ondo States by people who eat ‘kpomo, shaki, round-about, bokotor and beef. They are being supported by people who wear leather belts and shoes along with those that use anti-aging creams, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics etc.  All by-products of cows.

The irony is that the persons who do not want to see herdsmen in their states did not start by first banning ‘kpomo, shaki, round-about, bokotor’ and beef from their cooking pots at home. They want to eat these things and drink milk/milk products yet they do not want to see cows. They want to eat their cake and have it. This could only happen where there is a special arrangement for manna from heaven – I doubt if this is possible since I doubt if these people are as righteous as the Prophet Moses (Upon Whom be Peace)!

The more serious issue before us is how do we secure our animal protein food security needs as a country that is moving towards a projected population of 400 million by 2050! This is what I want to hear politicians and leaders talking about and not ethnicity and religion. I want to hear them talking about how herdsmen and farmers could coexist for their mutual benefit and ours.

Today, we no longer have the habitat to sustain wildlife that used to be consumed by some as bushmeat. We are dependent on imported fish and poultry. We are, however, able to provide cheap beef for ourselves as a nation because of herdsmen like me. People like me, therefore, are an important component of Nigeria’s food security architecture.

Now the question is this: Do I like the current open grazing/pastoral grazing undertaken by herdsmen? My answer is NO. Do I think that we should address this challenge? My answer is YES. Could there be a solution? My answer is YES and I have humbly proffered some possible solutions in some of my previous posts.

Now… enter the politicians. (The most unpatriotic Nigerians that I have ever come across!) — unfortunately I have found myself in their midst! Coming from a military background it has been tough for me!

Do I think that the negative utterances by certain politicians are useful? My answer is NO. How does telling any ethnic group to leave a locality whether in Owerri (Imo), Gusau, Ilejemeje (Ekiti) Aramoko (Ekiti), Ogoni (Rivers), Kano, Gboko ( Benue) help any Nigerian at a time like this? This could only be done for their selfish political gains and not for the good of their people and Nigeria at large.

People like these foment crises for all and then shift the blame to security agencies. They never solve our problems through sound leadership but ride on our backs (sentiments) to attain their selfish political goals. This is wrong and it should not be condoned by any person.

The true test is that they should tell us how we would eat ‘kpomo, shaki, round-about, bokotor’ and beef without cows? Cows that are herded by herdsmen like me! A simple question requiring a simple answer! They should SHUT UP if they have no answer!

As Nigerians, we are grappling with a lot of welfare and security issues. We do not need you Mr Politician to add fuel to the embers of insecurity that we are managing. We have enough on our plates!

Sen. Abdulaziz Nyako represented Adamawa Central Senatorial District in the 8th Assembly

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