The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae, on Monday, expressed disappointment over continued silence of President Mohammadu Buhari on incessant attacks of Fulani herdsmen on farmers in the country.
Falae, whose farm, located at Ilado Community in Akure North Local Government area of Ondo State, was set ablaze by men suspected to be herders on Sunday night, said that the arson on his farm was an attempt to kill him.
The former SGF said that he expected the President to have announced effective measures that could control the capacity of the herdsmen from terrorising the people of the country.
Speaking after the assessment tour of the farm, Falae said ,” I have been at the receiving end for long. Even after I was kidnapped, they came back and killed one of my guards and the case remains an unsolved murder case. ”
Falae who said the arson was targeted at him, noted that “I believe if they saw me in person, it is me they would hurt. To burn Palm trees amounts to an act of malice and hatred and I believe they have malice against me and they hate me, that is why they will burn my palm trees, uproot the Palm trees I planted and throw the seedlings away. That does not help the cattle in any way.”
The former Finance Minister disclosed that he would join hands with other leaders from the South West zone to ensure that “There is no colony in Yorubaland.”
The elder statesman’s words ” I have expected him (Buhari) for over two years to take an initiative and make a national broadcast to his people in Nigeria assuring us that he will handle the matter by announcing effective measures that could control the capacity of the herdsmen and assure that both the herdsmen and us can live together in peace without one side damaging the other. I am disappointed that I have not heard this from him.”
Falae stated further that, “If I were President, I would have taken the initiative because this is not a problem that cannot be solved. Many nations have gone through this, this mode of cattle rearing is universal, but in the last hundred years, most nations have solved the problem by adopting ranching.
“Government at all levels, especially the Federal government, should be a government for all of us regardless of how many votes we cast at election time, we are all entitled to the protection of the federal government .
“Ranching is cattle farming and a legitimate and very profitable business run by private business men but they are trying to use my crops to feed their cattle to subsidise their own business because they are forcing me by invading my farm in the night to supply free food to their cattle and when they sell the cattle, they don’t give me part of the money.
“This is a system that cannot survive and I expected the government to have stopped it. We are not saying cattle rearing should be stopped but the cattle rearers should be assisted to set up or do their business without hurting anybody. Hurting farmers is not acceptable.
“At first they will come in the night to fetch water and we were tolerant because they did not touch or destroy anything but we did not allow them to stay here but later, it took a different turn all over Nigeria.
“They will come in the night, eat our maize and I have reported to the police over ten times. Element of the same people kidnapped me, when people said they were Fulani herdsmen, they could say they are Fulanis but everybody knows a Fulani man in Nigeria
“Every year, they set fire to my farm and do you know why? There are two elements to their actions, first is economic; they burn this farm because the grass is already dry and cows don’t like that. So they burn the grass and in two weeks’ time, fresh grass will grow and their cattle will have fresh grass to eat. In other words, they are already treating my farm as if it is their colony.”
He urged government at all levels to take steps in curbing the activities of the herdsmen, saying “if they don’t take steps to prevent it, it means that government supports what they are doing, they are not offended by what they are doing.”
Dwelling on the issue of proposed cattle colony, Falae said, “the proposal that colony should be established and rangers will accompany cattle moving from one colony to another is a very provocative and repugnant proposal”.
According to him, the word ‘colony’ is a repugnant political word because it means one group of people dominating another.
His words, “I will try to contain myself because I am provoked. You know Nigeria was a colony; through the efforts of our leaders, we were able to get the British to leave and we are free.
“A colony is a territory that is a dependent territory; more or less owned by another nation. Thank God, since 1960, we are no longer a colony.”
“In Nigeria; to mention the word ‘colony’ has political connotation, not economic. A colony is a political entity which someone said he wants to create in the territory of another; that is a provocation; that is terrible thing for anybody to contemplate. I am sure it was a mistake; I hope my friend, Audu Ogbeh, will withdraw that obnoxious policy.”