The rainy season is probably the happiest period of the year for farmers. This may not be the case for those in communities facing attacks from suspected Fulani herdsmen.
Benue state, the "food basket of the Nation" has been the worst hit by the herders with lots of people killed and farmlands destroyed. On Monday, July 11, 2016, gunmen believed to be nomadic Fulani herdsmen have killed scores of villagers in state in a long-running conflict over grazing rights.
"The magnitude of killings is enormous. Scores of people were killed in the past two weeks by Fulani herdsmen in at least 10 local government areas of the state," spokesman Tahav Agerzua told AFP.
Farmers who should be in the farms have been scattered within schools which have been converted to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Makurdi, the state capital.
As usual, malnourished children, poor living conditions are common sights in the camp which is home to IDPs in Ukum, Logo and Agatu local government.
Enugu, Delta and Niger state have also been affected by this sad event. At least 11 persons were reported to have died after a clash between suspected Fulani Herdsmen and Gbagyi communities in Niger state during the Eid-el-Fitri celebration.
Four persons were killed in Lamba, Paikoro local government, while another seven were butchered during another clash between the same ethnic people in Barakuta in Boss local government area of the state.
The Gbagyi's are farmers who produce food for Nigerians resident in the North Central region. Such situations will only scare them from the farm.
Continuous attacks in the Northeast region by members of the Boko Haram terrorists sect has led to devastating effects in the area. The federal government under former President Goodluck Jonathan declared war on the insurgents. The military seem to have won the fight following recent successes in the area.
Also, when the Niger Delta Militants resurfaces, President Muhammadu Buhari immediate ordered the deployment of military personnel to the oil-rich region. President Buhari is yet to give such directive against the herdsmen. The federal government has received backlash from Nigerian for not reacting to the situation.
The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh had disclosed plans to set up grazing reserve areas within some states in the federation for the over 8.5 million cattle. He also revealed plans to import a "special grass" from Brazil for these cattle that continuously get into Nigeria through our porous borders. Not much has been heard in this heard about this plan in recent times following widespread criticism by Nigerians against the move.
Towards finding a lasting solution to this occurrence which has been considered by most analysts as "a ticking time bomb," the federal government should deploy security men to guard the entry points into Nigeria. This would prevent the in flock of the herdsmen and their animals.
The federal government should investigate claims linking the herdsmen to Boko Haram insurgents who have escaped from Sambisa Forest into other parts of the country and take necessary actions to stop the trend.
There government should establish grazing areas for animals in the country, put in place restrictions to the movement of these animals by their owners and enforce strict penalties for defaulters.
The presidency's decision to shy away from this problem while condemning attacks in other parts of the world will not only lead to continuous loss of lives but increased case of hunger and starvation in the country. At the end, government's plan towards food sufficiency may just be another wild goose chase.