By Padre Austin Okafor
It was after speaking with a friend at Vanguard that I realized the enormity of the crisis. I requested her to do a reportage of the Fulani herdsmen crisis in my locale. What she told me was more terrific. She told me that she could only do an investigative reportage of the crisis and make it look like a research. She will not include the name OGBOM and would not reveal her source as the details would spell doom for me and my people whom I am trying to rescue. She made it clear to me that those at the higher echelon would simply take me out of the equation and make it look like an accident. This would be followed by a calculated attack on my village people and in the end, tagged as farmers’/cattle herdsmen crisis or communal crisis.
This is a risk I was not willing to take at the time. Be that as it may, I have deliberately decided to speak because the truth cannot be abolished. I have decided to step out of the cave for my people because the Fulani boys are now shooting to kill. Yes, they shot at a man who tried to retrain them from further invasion of his farm. Don’t ask too many questions. It’s a dead-end. It was ite missa est upon complaining to the men in black robe.
THE OGBOM EXPERIENCE
I’m not going to speak English to make this piece interesting. I will hit the nail on the head and that’s it. It’s been a harrowing experience. The damage is of monumental proportion. All hope is lost for Ogbom people. Farmine is the gift given and received by the herdsmen to my people. OK.
Ogbom people are predominantly farmers. We can’t survive without going to the farm. The old men and women do subsistence farming to carter for themselves and their grand children who live with them in the village. The youths who couldn’t continue with education also go into serious farming business. They can cultivate like tractor… Very hard working I mean. There’s no such thing as good road, no hospital, no water, erratic power supply, no Police station… This is what life is like in Ogbom. It will take you about an hour to get to the nearest police station.
The rains made a late advent this year and when it finally arrived, it arrived generously. By July, the farm lands were all green and doing well. You don’t need fertilizer here. The farmers were expecting bountiful harvest but that was not to be. The herdsmen were on rampage. They visit our farms when we have closed for the day. They visit overnight. And one after another, the expected farm produce vanished. And they have not stopped.
The women go to farm in the morning and come back wailing, refusing to be consoled. The men are not left out. This has continued till now. Imagine coming to your farm in the morning and finding nothing. All your labours gone. An old mama slumped upon seeing the damage done to her farm. She has not recovered.
In September this year, Fulani herdsmen attacked a farmer in his farm. They made him watch the cattles ravage his farm. They ate the leaves and stem of cassava and uproot the tubers with their horns. No farm remains the same after the visit of these marauding beasts. They harvested his yam tubers and roasted right there in the farm. They made the cattle trample on the entire farmland. He could no longer bear it so he attempted to scare the cattles out of his farm. It was at this point that he met his Waterloo. One of the Fulani men shot into the air in an attempt to stop the farm owner, who was ready to bear the consequences. He continued to scare off the cattles and then the Fulani man shot at the poor farmer at a close range. This is broad day robbery and a case of murder. They have damaged all the farms in ogbom. They have damaged all the farms in ogbom. They have damaged all the farms in ogbom.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Should Ogbom people stop farming because of the herdsmen invasion? If they do, how would they survive? Should they continue farming? If they do, it would be destroyed again by the same people. When we report to the police, sometimes with evidence and culprits, nothing tangible happens. When you apprend a cow and report to the police, both the cow and it’s owner are discharged? When they are discharged, they revisit your farm. God help you if they meet you there. They say they have bought and paid for the farms, I don’t know what that means. So, where do we go from here???
A middle aged man has not been sighted again since after confronting these herdsmen in his farm in 2014. The wife suddenly made a widow by Fulani herdsmen.
Children have suddenly become opharns because their parents have been murdered in cold blood by the Fulani herdsmen.
We are no longer safe. We have nowhere else to go. My people are now hungry not because they are lazy. They now experience farmine, the immediate effect of Fulani cattle men. My people are only being Christians. Eye wey dey cry dey see road oh! Hehehe!
It was Shakespeare who once said “there is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortunes. Ommited, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the currents when it serves or lose our ventures.”
There’s no better time to adhere to the Shakespearean doctrine of neccesity. It is now. All hands must be on deck to do the needful. The government has to come out to stop the menace. Following the instructions of Buhari, people retuned to the farm only for their farms to be ravaged by the Fulani herdsmen. Buhari must take the currents and speak to his kinsmen now that it serves, otherwise, we all lose our ventures.
Ogbom, yagba east, Kogi state.
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