On Thursday 4th February, 2021, the redoubtable Daily Trust carried the above article penned by Bulama Bukarti, which to all intents and purposes, was directed at the personal integrity of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR following his proposal for the enactment of a relevant legal instrument aimed at nipping in the bud the ubiquitous problem of farmers-herders clashes all over the country thereby posing a serious threat to our peace and security as a nation. In fact, the said article was solely aimed at scoring cheap popularity by casting aspersions at the governor at the expense of finding a lasting solution to the serious security challenge now bedevilling the country.
At the onset, let me categorically state that the proposal for the enactment of a law to ban open grazing or pastoralism especially by the Fulani herdsmen anywhere in the country was not made out of mischief but due to the sincere concern of His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR for peaceful and harmonious co-existence among the diverse peoples of the country as a former herdsman himself who has the bitter memories and experiences of driving his family’s herd of cattle from his rustic village of Ganduje to many parts of Kano State and beyond.
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Secondly, His Excellency is a bridge-builder in both words and actions having given his daughter in marriage to somebody from across the Niger and the proposition of a legislation that will threaten the corporate existence of this country will be the last thing in his mind.
Thirdly, Gov. Ganduje is security-conscious and his administration has been making every effort to ensure the security of lives and property of the people not only of his state but the country as a whole and this is one of the main reasons why Kano State is one of, if not, the most peaceful states in the country in spite of its cosmopolitan nature and large population.
Another reason why the proposition is relevant and timely is that pastoralism is outdated and uneconomical; it has outlived its usefulness in an ever-changing digital world that we are living in now just like the almajiri system has become. Nowhere in the advanced world is pastoralism practiced as commercial agriculture in the form of integrated farming is now the norm. Why should Nigeria be different and continue to cling to pastoralism despite its threats to the health, lives and well-being of the herders, farmers and even the animals? Clearly, there should be a clear rethink on this issue if we are really committed to finding lasting solutions to the myriad of challenges facing this promising country and arm-chair criticisms will only add to our woes.
As a seasoned technocrat, administrator and statesman, Gov. Ganduje is in a better position to see what other by-standers cannot foresee. Pastoralism has continued to be one of the cogs in the wheel of progress and development of this country by denying the children of herders the opportunity to acquire both Islamic and western education despite the introduction of nomadic education some decades ago.
One of the lame arguments advanced by the author, despite his legal background, is that the proposition is unconstitutional. But as he is well aware, any section of a constitution is subject to different interpretations by legal luminaries and if any constitution is not in tune with the current realities on ground, it can be amended. The proposition has to go to the National Assembly where it will be subjected to public hearings for inputs by critical stakeholders before passage into law.
Instead of finding fault with those who have declared the Fulani herdsmen persona non grata despite settling in their states for centuries, the author chose to launch an attack at his usual punching bag out of malice and mischief. What is more flagrantly unconstitutional between those who have flouted the constitution by expelling their fellow country men from their midst and the person that has proposed a law for the banning of open grazing or pastoralism for peace and tranquility to reign supreme in the country? This is mind-boggling to say the least!
Like I have said, Gov. Ganduje always matches his words with actions. For example, long before the recent crisis in the South-western parts of the country between the Fulani and their host communities, he has advocated for the resettlement of the pastoralists in Kano State especially at the expansive Falgore and Dansoshiya forests where many amenities and infrastructure were provided such as watering points for animals, roads, clinics, housing units, etc for the benefit of the Fulani that have elected to renounce open grazing/pastoralism for a more peaceful and economically rewarding sedentary life there.
What is more, pastoralism is a serious security threat to the country as it will be very difficult for crimes to be promptly detected and prevented. But if the Fulani herdsmen are settled in one area, for example, the detection and prevention of crimes will become much easier and criminals can easily be apprehended unlike in a situation where they roam about in the open.
There is no doubt that whenever the country is experimenting with democratic rule, insecurity is always pervasive. During the First Republic, political crises especially in the South-West and other parts of the country led to the first bloody coup which in turn led to the devastating civil war. Likewise, during the Second Republic, political crises again brought back the military and the country was the worse for it. It seems some politicians and their henchmen have not learnt from our past political debacles in their actions and utterances and whenever concrete propositions are advanced to overcome our challenges, they are dismissed with a wave of the hand by the holier-than-thou arm-chair critics.
Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR has succeeded in transforming the landscape of the most populous state and making it the most peaceful since assuming the mantle of leadership in May 2015 leading to his re-election in May 2019. Recently, Igbo traders, who were part of a delegation on courtesy call to His Excellency, the Executive Governor by the elders and leaders of Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi Market Traders Association, Sabon Gari, presented an award to him in recognition of his magnanimity to them in particular and by taking concrete measures to boost commercial activities in general throughout the state. What is a better bridge-building across the Niger than this? Indeed, arm-chair rhetoric is the bane of this country.
Salihu Tanko Yakasai is the Special Adviser on Media to the Governor of Kano State