By Attah Adgidzi,
For over three months now, Nasarawa State, especially the people in the Southern Senatorial District of the state have know no peace due to the incessant crisis between Fulani herdsmen and Tiv farmers.
The zone could best be liken as a war theater, a stage where killings, destruction of houses and farm crops have become a normal routine, humiliation and harassment of residents in the area by security operative is a daily practice, while the Fulani goes-on freely with their weapons.
It was believed that, the anti-grazing law implemented by the Benue State Government could be responsible or triggered the crisis in Nasarawa State.
Another opinion has that the crisis was been orchestrated by some politicians to displace the people (electorates) in the possible areas (of defeat.) believed they might be losing elections.
This is the second of it kinds since the last crisis experienced in the zone about 5 years ago. Firstly, it was Migili vs Eggon, Alago vs Eggon and the Fulani vs Eggon, all within the same Senatorial District between 2012 to 2014.
It was an ugly experienced, giving the lives lost and properties destroyed, that the people would not wished to keep experiencing the repeat of past sordid acts.
Now, it is between the Tiv and Fulani people measuring their strength in battle field at the detriment of all asundry.
While effort was on going to quench the present fire in the Southern zone, the Western district of the state exploded as result of the escalating crisis in Kogi State between the Bassa and Ebira communities.
The escalating Kogi crisis was an opportunity for the people to express their grievance in war, as the issues on ground in Toto between the Bassa and Ebira people was like a nine months pregnant woman waiting to deliver. Issues on the chieftaincy stool and the recently APC local government primary election top list as the reasons for the unrest.
As it stands, and by all indication, there is no end in sight of the crisis. And with the heightening political activities in the state, there is no respite between the waring groups.
There was no year passing by, Since Governor Umaru Tanko Almakura came on board, without crisis erupting in the state.
The state which hitherto was known as the most peaceful State in the country in time past has eluded its glory with schemes that today is beyond handling, and if care is not taken the continued activities of the Fulani herdsmen in the state will be as that of the Boko haram in the North East.
Before now, in Nasarawa State, the relationship between the various ethnic nationalities and religion bodies was envious of all, setting pace for others to emulate. But today, this lofting cordiality is now a mirage.
For instance, as it was the case in practice, “when we used to follow our parents to farm, assisting them to cultivate certain portion of land which was the only source of livelihood with ease. Things were so good and pleasant, because herdsmen peacefully coexisted with farmers, sharing rusted yams and other food items as an exchange to ‘fura and Nunu’ with each other as the Fulani equally helped in harvesting farm produce in order for them to send in the cows in feeds on.
“They only carried sticks and in most cases knives to ward off attacks from wild animals, but not to kill people in their host communities as it is presently the case, where pastoralists no longer recognize farmers as neighbors, but moving about with Ak 47 riffle and sword, becoming thongs in human flesh in every community of this state (nation).
Of course, this cannot be said of the relationships now, as things keeps deteriorating every day. No peace everywhere.
Since the fresh attacks on Tiv community by suspected Fulani Headsmen across the Southern Senatorial zone of State, there have been public outrage, public outcry and concerns from different quarters to that effect.
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Nasarawa state chapter and other tribal groups have already condemned the attacks on Tiv people, urging government to intensify actions in arresting the perpetrator and to bring them to book.
Available data from the office of the president Tiv Youth Development Association in Nasarawa, Peter Ahemba said over 100,000 Tiv residents in the state have been sacked while 10,000 villages of the Tiv extraction were displaced.
“They are everywhere armed with AK47 and killing innocent people as dead toll arising from the continues unrest surpassed 100 person.” He added.
This remained the major issue in the State, as hundreds are been killed on weekly basis and many more expelled from their homes across the state, and the State Government does not appear willing to initiate or adopt any measure to forestall the act.
With rising profile of crises in the state, it is expedient on the state government to come up with a law that will allow its citizens farm, to coexist and the Fulani herdsmen to rear without any challenge. When it becomes worst, a spike has to be called a spike, by adopting the anti grazing law to restrict the movement of herdsmen.
Now that the raining season is here, there is a growing concerns that the state and its people will experience gross shortage of food as result of the crisis, as no farmer is willing to go to farm and cultivate for fear of been attack by the sophisticated armed Fulani terrorists.
Information available records that criminals have hijacked the crisis, embarking on massive looting and burning of houses belonging to Tiv people, as well as stealing herdsmen cows to further fuel the crisis
It is , indeed a growing concern to the people of Nasarawa state that if this levels of criminality go on unchecked, it will not only be difficult to address issues of security in the near future, it will be a nightmare to the entire people of the state, more so that we are in the era of politicking.
Just recently, at the heat of the crisis, the Tiv and Fulani communities in the state, in the presence of Representatives of government and all security agencies in the state, traditional rulers, signed a peace agreement to sheaths their swords and return home for progress, peace and development.
While many commended the resolution between the two waring communities, some others considered it as a clandestine arrangement to further eliminate the Tiv people from the zone.
The primary responsibility of any Government is to protect lives and properties of the people, and this should be the concern of the state Governor, Umaru Tanko Almakura rather than a portioning blames in some quarters of his counterpart been responsible to the state the state was in.
Meanwhile, both the Benue and Taraba states government have accused Fulani herdsmen harboring in the state, which has been countered by Nasarawa residents in the recent past.
But this should rather be a wake up call on the State government to restrategize and check these allegation with sincerity of purpose to evict all those causing troubles in the state.
To say this crisis is not connected to the senatorial ambition of the Governor is not far from the truth. But now that there is crisis everywhere, and the people are displaced, who will give him the Senatorial mandate? This is where the Governor must do everything possible to restore peace and normalcy.
The incident where the Governor Almakura was stoned when he visited one of the IDPs camps in Agwatashi, Obi Local Government Area was an indication that the Governor is not doing enough in the area of securing their lives. Take it or live it, this is a minus to the political aspiration of attaining the senatorial ambition.
Surely, the people’s action shown that they can no longer tolerate the game of Government looking the other way while Fulani militia massacres residents of the State, since Government finds it difficult to performed its constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and properties.
At the moment, communities in the Southern and western Senatorial districts are completely ravaged. Even though, Governor Tanko Almakura has already visited IDPs and also donated some reasonable relief materials them, something urgently still need to be done to remedy the situation, if possible put end to it.
Until stringent measures are taken to forestall the repeat of farmers/herdsmen clashes and communal crisis experienced in the last few days, the state might plunge itself in another bigger crisis if not checked now.
Nasarawa State cannot, and should not be allowed to continually suffering from breaching of law and order by people who have little or no idea of the existing peace and harmony being enjoyed by the citizens of the state in past.
In thiss wise, traditional rulers, community and opinion leaders, religion body and other stakeholders in the peace building process should, in collaboration with Ardors and leaders of Fulani settlements in the state to begin education and sensitization campaign to communities and their subjects so as not to let the cat out of the land.
Non-governmental organization, civil society groups, and government institutions responsible in fostering peace, unity, harmony and peaceful coexistence among divers ethnic nationalities should also begin taking action of initiating processes that will entrench absolute peace in the state.
The local vigilantes groups should seem to be playing their roles, detecting trouble maker within the communities, whike security agencies in the state should not rest in their onus in mounting surveillance through its existing networks in fishing out the trouble shutters in the community and prevent any further break of law and order.
Obviously, should nothing be done, and quickly too, in addressing situations surrounding the killings of innocent people by herders, the people will wake-up someday to realize that, they will not be able to move, farm, sleep and even live in their