Olu Falae, the erstwhile Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) has condemned the proposed "cattle colonies" by the Federal government to guide against the activities of the rampaging Fulani herdsmen in the country.
Mr. Falae stated that the idea of the cattle colony was a form of internal colonization of the whole country and a grand plot to exploit the local farmers on their own land on behalf of Fulanis.
He spoke on Monday while reacting to the invasion and destructions of his farm located at Ilado-Imafon in the Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo state.
SaharaReporters had reported that some arsonists suspected to be Fulani herdsmen on Sunday evening set ablaze parts of the farmland owned by Falae, destroying planted crops mostly cassava and palm trees.
It will be recalled that the Federal government had proposed a new policy for the establishment of cattle colonies, against the earlier idea of ranching across all the states of Nigeria.
Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development who made the pronouncement had explained that the idea of the cattle colony was conceived as a measure to curb the incessant bloody clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and local farmers.
Mr. Ogbeh also disclosed that the idea would be a major platform for the federal government to make more commitment to the development of the livestock subsector in the country.
Although, many Nigerians have raised concerns and speculations that there is an ulterior motive and grand plot by the federal government to forcefully take over communal lands and hand over to the marauding Fulani herdsmen.
But speaking, Mr. Falae noted that the idea of establishing cattle colony by the federal government after all the destructions and killings by the Fulani herdsmen was provocative and repugnant.
The Afenifere chieftain noted that cattle rearing are major private businesses of any economy, mostly in the north, but should not be made to disrupt the farming business of those who solely depend on annual crops for the survival of their families.
“Cattle-rearing is a legitimate and very profitable business run by private businessmen who are trying to use my crops to feed to their cattle, to subsidize their own business.
“And they are forcing me into the ventures by invading my farm to supply free food to their cattle and then sell it later although I am not saying cattle rearing should be stopped but we are saying it should not be done in a way to hurt anybody.
“So, the proposal that colonies should be established and then rangers should accompany cattle moving from one colony to another is to very provocative and repugnant,” Mr. Falae said.
“Cattle-rearing is structured around economics but the word "Colony" is repugnant and the word colony is a repugnant political word just like one group of human beings dominating and exploiting others.
“The British came to Nigeria and by force colonized us and made us their possession. So, a colonial arrangement regards possession of other humans by a superior set of beings .
“We thank God we were able to win our independence, therefore I am shocked that a Nigerian, an adult educated Nigerian could use that word ‘Colony’ to describe any part of his county, that he wants to bring back colonial states even to 1 square inch of Nigerian territory.
“The proposal I read in the papers said the government would acquire an area in a state and plant good grass further for the cattle to feed themselves.
“The question is why must the cattle travel from that defacto ranch to another colony? Elsewhere in the world, your ranch is self-contained, there is water and there is also processing facilities.
“You don’t have to march your cattle from one colony to the other and whatever is in colony A should be in colony A because there is no reason, no justification, except you want to perpetrate Fulani herdsmen moving around that territory” Mr. Falae said.
He also decried the silence of President Mohammadu Buhari over the incessant attacks by the Fulani herdsmen on farmers and their lands in the country.
The elder statesman noted that the President should have put in measures in place that could curtail the unwholesome activities of the marauders. Mr. Falae stated that he had been at the receiving end in the hands of the Fulani herdsmen and also remembered his ordeal when abducted by the intruders who killed one of his guards.
“And to now burn my palm trees, amounts to 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.
“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 out 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 you 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 for fresh grass will grow and their cattle will have fresh grass to eat. In order words, they are already treating my farm as if it was their colony.
“I have expected President (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 I have not heard this from him.
“If I were the 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 nation's have solved the problem by adopting ranching” he added.