Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, and former Lagos State governor and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, are engaged in a war of words over the herdsmen crisis in Nigeria.
Afenifere had condemned Tinubu for reportedly advising the federal government to convert unused land to grazing reserves.
It said the APC chieftain was free to play politics the way he liked, but cautioned him against toying with people’s lives by making outlandish propositions.
The group reacted to a statement credited to Tinubu in which he attributed the herdsmen attacks in parts of the country to scarcity of water and grazing land.
Afenifere Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, in a statement on Tuesday, stated that the ex-governor was only endorsing the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association’s position to convert the entire country into a cattle colony.
Tinubu who was speaking at The Nation/TVC seminar in Abuja on Monday had said, “Unoccupied, isolated land can quickly be turned into grazing areas in the affected states.”
But Afenifere rejected his position, insisting that it violated the recommendation of the 2014 National Conference which affirmed ranching as a way out of the herdsmen killings.
It said, “We totally reject this position as it is very backward in modern times and contrary to the consensus of all peace-loving Nigerians that what we need to solve the herdsmen siege on farmers is to have ranches.
“Senator Tinubu has lived in very enlightened societies like the United States and Britain; If he was still living in any of such countries, would he suggest that grazing routes should be established at this age and time.”
The group added, “We admonish him that he is free to play his politics the way it suits him but he should tread softly in playing games with the lives of our people by making outlandish propositions on issues which have been settled.
“Tinubu can give his residence in Bourdillon for cattle colony but our people will not accept their land being converted into cattle grazing routes.”
Reacting to Afenifere’s criticism on Wednesday, Tinubu, via his media office, said Odumakin was suffering from “selective comprehension”.
He said Afenifere completely took his comments out of context while ignoring the valuable contributions he made on the broad subject of herdsmen-farmers crisis in the country.
The statement from Tinubu Media Office is below:
Re: Afenifere Rejects Tinubu’s Position: Odumakin Needs Cure for Selective Comprehension
The only deserving response to Yinka Odumakin is that he needs a cure for his seeming selective comprehension. The range of short and long term options for an enduring peace in the incessant clashes between herders and farmers offered by His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Tinubu were suggestions for the consideration of the 2-day Conflict Resolution Summit, which ended on Tuesday in Abuja. Asiwaju Tinubu did not mention South West in particular and what he said had a context to it: “Unoccupied, isolated land can quickly be turned into grazing areas in the affected states”.
It is not only some states in the South West that are affected but several states across the country. Why Odumakin suddenly gets hot under the collar may not be far-fetched. The usual frenzy and self-righteous mentality he portrays is on full display. Perhaps next time he should read through the whole submission and caution himself from self-righteousness and displaying in full glare anarchical emotions. And if Odumakin’s delusion still allows him to read, perhaps a read through of the full chunk of what was said by Tinubu at the summit will educate him better. It’s as follows:
The violence has thankfully subsided. Government must sustain wise policy and action to keep peace and prevent violent recurrences.
1. Government must maintain reasonable and effective military and law enforcement presence in the affected areas. This presence should work with leaders of both the herder and farmer communities as well as traditional and religious leaders.
2. Government should develop a comprehensive remedial/rehabilitation strategy for victims of the violent crisis.
3. Government must help herders gradually shift from their traditional nomadic existence to a more static lifestyle. We have to face the reality that modernity is making the nomadic way counterproductive and inefficient.
Unoccupied, isolated land can quickly be turned into grazing areas in the affected states. In the long run, this will enable herders to better maintain their livestock and thus their own livelihoods.
4. Government should establish a permanent panel as a forum for farmers and herders to discuss their concerns and identify ways to mitigate contention. This will also help educate the general public.
1. Nigeria needs to take the lead for Africa in international community for dealing with climate change.
2. Water catchment and conservation systems must be developed. This includes the prudent use of dams and irrigation sub-systems maintainable at the local level.
3. More water efficient farming techniques must be employed.
4. Projects to protect the land for additional desertification must take adequate priority.
These recommendations are suggestive and not at all comprehensive. However, I think they convey the idea that dealing with the immediate crisis is essential. But we also must position ourselves to deal with these larger forces which are at the deepest root of this challenge. If we cannot get to this root, our short-term efforts may be successful but over time they will be of decreasing utility.
This is a problem that is mostly not of your doing but one that you must solve for the future of this nation and its people. If you allow your greatness as a nation to show, you shall succeed in securing the benefits of a good life and suitable environment people for generations to come. That is the Nigeria I see and believe in.
RipplesNigeria… without borders, without fears