By Ati Kenneth Kengkeng

Sunday,23rd February 2014 was the day after Fulani mercenaries visited Adeke community, a suburb of Makurdi city.As usual,I went to Church but Church didn’t take the regular course.We took extra time and prayed to God in pentecostal style to rain down fire and brimstone and to do so many other things he has already empowered us to do.I prayed out my heart and also submitted my petition to heaven with great bitterness concerning the blood-letting in my land.Somehow,I knew that that just wasn’t the end of it.I returned home from Church to the sad news of fresh killings in Naka,Gwer-West LGA of about 7 people.The previous day,Fulani mercenaries took their campaign of destruction and blood shed to the doorstep of the Chief of Adeke community;a suburb of Makurdi.News has it that they didn’t find him at home.In anger and frustration,they decided to fire some gunshots in the air.These shots shook the entire fabric of Benue State.
This attack is one of great significance as the state capital and seat of government was threatened.One person was reportedly killed and the ripple effects are enormous.Fulani invasion  has suddenly become the topic that is on virtually everyone’s lips in Benue.The fear of Fulani has gripped Makurdi through and through.People who reside in the outskirts and suburbs live in total fear and anxiety over what happens next.A lot of parents have moved their families into the city to live with friends and colleagues for fear of uncertainty.All of a sudden,many are concerned and are living in the reality of the Fulani invasion as the gunshots are now within the range of their existence.Those who never cared about the insurgency are now basking in the displeasure of it.What was hitherto the bush-illiterate-farmers sole challenge has become a maximum hinderance to the all-round development of the educated and the swaggerlonians in Makurdi.Alas!They are here now.Listening to the raw sound of Fulani AK47’s blazing in the air coupled with images of butchered farmers,remains a memory that should not re-occur.
How and when did we degenerate to this level?Where and when did it all go wrong?What on earth will make a Fulani man to break ranks with common sense and against all odds,step into Makurdi and knock on the front door of a traditional ruler?Something must be wrong somewhere;else,what gives them the audacity to take the risk of fighting to death?For avoidance of doubt,Benue is known to be radical and a huge fortress of resistance.Ask the jihadist and they’ll tell you better and of course,the Fulani know that.We are warriors and we don’t back down untill it is finished.The situation is more dire than what we see at face value.Regrettably,I want to consider this as one of the many fruits we are reaping from years of greed and negligence.I prefer to address these issues one after another.

refugees occasioned by the attacks

refugees occasioned by the attacks


1)It is common knowledge that the common,average,ordinary,regular northerner respects and revere’s his traditional ruler far over and above anybody else including the President of Nigeria.Armed with this attitude,the Fulani herdsmen,upon arrival in Tivland,pay courtesy visits to our Chiefs to allow for safe passage and grazing in their domain.They in turn offer them royalties in cash and kind(cattle).This however,has gone beyond royalties only and has amounted to exploitation.Check across the entirety of Tivland and you’ll hardly find a traditional ruler without connections to Fulani herdsmen and almost none without herd of cattle numbering in the hundreds.This relationship has been going on for years untill lately when it upgraded to sale of land.Grazing areas have been sold to Fulani herdsmen and they have been denied access to such lands in specific areas.Only God knows why they visited the Chief of Adeke.It is not difficult to decipher that such is the scenario.There is a peculiar instance where two people put heads together and sold land to Fulani herdsmen.The money sharing formula didn’t go down well and one party declined on the sales agreement but didn’t return the money either.Attempting to prevent the herdsmen from accessing the land led to rancour and fighting.What an anomaly!The life of a Fulani man derives expression and pleasure in the welfare of his cattle.It is obvious the he can and will kill anyone and anything to protect them.That is his life and source of livelihood for himself and his normadic family.We must revert to the days where  sincerity and honesty were our watchword.Our fore-fathers operated and succeeded with these qualities.These qualities are not bought with money but learnt,imbibed and endowed.Virtually everything in Tivland today has a price tag attached to it.Traditional rulers who ordinarily shouldve had these men bowing to them bare-footed and cap-in-hand,have relegated themselves to seeking royalties from Fulani.This act must be condemned entirely and the necessary disciplinary actions and sanctions taken against such lust-driven traditional rulers. 

2) I’ve spent the last 5years of my life encouraging and practising agriculture.This is and shall always be the only lifeline of Benue.I maintain that politics is not a profession,career or trade.It is a platform that makes use of your training,expertise,gifts and talents to make positive impact on society per time.Many people have dumped farming,our age-long tradition and trade for the stipend,loot and grandeur of political office.Our state is now awash with SA’s,SSA’s and PA’s without portfolio and functions;people who ordinarily should be in the farm earning legitimate income,creating jobs and tackling poverty head on.Hardwork has been relegated for psychophancy.Our villages have been deserted for Makurdi city,leaving the old and feeble to fend for themselves.Ordinarily,if agriculture was an active sector in Benue,the malpractices wouldve been checkmated long ago.Rather than flee out of fear,the resistance wouldve been fierce and unbearable for Fulani miscreants or better still,no fighting at all.Is it not worrisome that hotels are springing up everyday in an agro-allied Benue while oranges,tomatoes and yams are wasting away?Does it not bother you that the Benue Investment and Property Company(BIPC)has built a filling station as against cottage industries in her investment drive?The business acumen of the average Benue man is once again in question here.We lost Benue Cement to Dangote due to this lack of visionary leadership and we need not cry foul over it.The poverty in the host community and degradation of the land without plans to replenish it is another matter unattended to.Let’s face agriculture.That’s our goldmine.Kwara State has since taken the bull by the horn and has earned the name “Food basket of the nation” in practise while we wallow in the emptiness of the apellation.We will remain slaves of the Niger Delta inspite of our potential so long as we neglect this sector.

3)Laxity,complacency and gross inefficiency on the part of law enforcement agencies has occasioned the elongation of this quagmire.The police has not lived up to expectation on this issue and must as a matter of urgency,step up and stem the tide.Security operatives cannot continue to look away while lives are lost in this manner.I honestly don’t want to concentrate my energy on this point as it obvious to all and sundry.This is what we get when the desire for twenty naira is over and above the lives of citizens,whether they are law abiding or not.Ordinarily,Fulani mercenaries will refrain from repraisal attacks if they know for sure that youths who attacked them and slaughtered their animals are being prosecuted and the issue of compensation for them is being addressed.Benue State is home to the Headquaters of Tactical Air Command of the Nigerian Air Force,Nigerian Army School of Military Engineering(NASME),72 Paratroopers Battalion of the Nigerian Army and Provost Regulating School of the Nigerian Navy.Let me shock you;All of them are in Makurdi and within a maximum radius of 7 kilometres including DSS State Headquaters,Police State Headquaters and NSCDC State Headquaters.Makurdi as a whole does not have a 9 kilometre radius.The magnitude of killing in the North East has taught me not to expect much form our security agencies.What more can one say?

4)I want to question the modus operandi of the Fulani.Must the earth taste blood before they are satisfied?Aren’t there ways of resolving grievances without bloodshed?What has happened to dialogue?Is that how they kill their dubious colleagues?Can’t we co-exist without knives and guns?Do they not know that if we manage to get our acts right,they will never come near the borders of Benue again?Have they for once considered the possible annihilation of their immediate normadic family and livelihood?Have they forgotten that this is the burial place of the jihad?Many have posited that this is another form of jihad and I must say that we don’t need to be mobilised to halt it.It has been done before and can be done again.Nobody has monopoly of voilence.Asari Dokubo is one loud mouth that gets attention because our country is unfortunate enough to be surviving only on Niger Delta oil but we don’t have to go that far as cattle isn’t as attractive as petro-naira.Its high time caution was activated through restraint and the normadic Fulani began to reason like human beings and not like the cattle they rear.The peace-loving people of Benue are always welcoming but when sanity and decorum is relegated to dogs(in this case cattle)what else should one do?Concerning this matter,the greatest manifestation of wisdom is to exercise restraint for dialogue.

5)We must address and redefine the concept of royalty and the politicisation of the Tiv Traditional Council.Returning from my village,I met a cluster of traditional rulers at the river bank returning from Makurdi.Take a vantage position on a regular Friday along Makurdi-Abuja raod and you’ll be amazed at the number of Chiefs in Tivland that troop into Abuja for weekend.I’ve not seen one from Idomaland yet.In my understanding,royalty does not just become mobile unless it is expedient.Sultan of Sokoto,Emir of Kano,Shehu of Borno et al do not leave their palaces unless extremely necessary.Same with Ooni of Ife,Alaafin of Oyo,Oba of Benin,Lagos…It is a modus operandi for royalty.Emir of Kano recently received President Jonathan in his palace and he didn’t even stand up on his feet.The Tortiv has dragged the Och’Idoma to the airport repeatedly to receive a guest when ordinarily,the guest shouldve been made to drive to their palaces and pay homage.They are all first-class Chiefs and of greater significance,Benue people,Tiv in particular,cannot be ignored in the quest to have a united Nigeria.Whoever you are in Nigeria and beyond,you might not want to mess around with the King of the giants of the middle-belt.As far as I can see and remember,royal highnesses don’t just move unless it is inevitable that they do.Why is it different with us?This is an expression of the collapse of our values to the point of seeking royalties from Fulani herdsmen,endorsing candidates for electoral positions and so on.This is part of the reason why the degradation and pollution of land around Dangote Cement is done with impunity.These attacks have been going on and the out cry has been consistent but the government of the day responded franctically and desperately only after the Tortiv’s village in Guma was torched.People are watching and history will play a key role in defining these issues in the near future.This little piece of mine will not be complete if I fail lend my voice (in addition to the brilliant submissions of 2 indigenous Professors;Hagher and Jibo) that the planned increase/enlargement of the Tiv Traditional Council via 5 additional first-class chiefs is a charade that should never materialise and the agenda be discarded with immediate alacrity.
Fellow Nigerians,there is no better place in the world to do business and co-exist than in Benue.We are getting better by the day and this is a step in that direction.Opportunities abound in our land an corrections will be made on all fronts.2015 confronts us with ample opportunity to that effect.It will be to our advantage if it is allowed to be issue-based rather than ethnicity,religion and nepotism.As we march on in optimism towards achieveing our goals and healing our nation,let’s give peace a chance and ensure a united prosperous Nigeria.
Long Live Tiv/Fulani
Long Live Benue State
Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria

Ati Kenneth Kengkeng is a Tiv man,Farmer,Speaker,Writer,Youth Ambassador,Public Affairs Commentator and Winner of Heir Apparent Leadership Reality Tv Show organised by National Orientation Agency.
Follow him on twitter @Atiphobis

Comments
  1. Dooberry says:

    The bare truth has been said @ last.At some point somebody has to say it and you’ve just done that.well don bro

    Like

  2. Aper Zava says:

    Kengkeng, my brother, you have written well. I have been wondering why I haven’t seen your comment on the ongoing massacre of Tiv people by Fulani mercenaries. When I saw this article with a catchy caption I was glad even before reading it. But after reading your article I found it was not a comparative assessment of truth and falsehood surrounding the Fulani invasion of Tiv land as hinted by your caption. Rather it was a grand presentation of the myths surrounding the Fulani massacre of the most peaceful and hospitable people in Nigeria.

    You blamed the Traditional rulers for stooping low to collect “royalties” from Fulani in exchange for grazing land. You blamed the security agencies for their inability to arrest and prosecute Tiv criminals that kill their cows as game. You went further to argue that anyone who’s means of livelihood is attacked would act the way the Fulani do. In order to not be one-sided you lambasted the Fulani for taking the defense of their cows to the extreme.

    I would have agreed with you if the Fulani massacre was directed only to the Tiv people. I would have agreed with you if I believed that a population of 3 LGAs in Benue and 4 LGAs in Nasarawa should pay for the “sins” of few Traditional rulers. I would have agreed with you if the Fulani did not occupy the homes of Tiv people in Nasarawa who have fled. In Gwer-west LGA people have fled their homes leaving and occupied territory of about 40km from the banks of Benue River, yet the Fulani are still attacking beyond this range with the intent to invade Naka, the only urban settlement in Gwer-west.

    But I understand your deficiency in not being able to understand the conflicts between farmers and nomadic Fulani. You are just 5 years into farming, and your type of farming is mechanized.

    I don’t really want to write an essay here, so I have to stop. But I expected you to conduct a research before writing an article of this nature.

    Regards.

    Like

  3. kombol nana says:

    Word.
    We only pray for a change in the fortunes of our state.
    God help Benue state and Nigeria as a nation.

    Like

    • Kengkeng says:

      @Zava Aper
      1)The caption states:Tiv-Fulani crisis… and not Fulani crisis in Nigeria.
      2)Its a plus to me that I am a mechanised farmer
      3)I need not be a farmer for 20years before I know the issues inherent
      4)I don’t see where you pointed out a fallacy neither have you posited that I lied.You just don’t agree.That’s ok.Disagreements are inevitable.You mustnt agree with me.
      5)I conducted my research and it was encompassing.It just didn’t have you or your input under scrutiny.
      6)I want to say this for the umpteenth time:i expect you to write a rejoinder.There is a part of the constitution of Nigeria that avails you the right to freedom of speech.I’m sure Ati Terkula will be benevolent enough to publish it.untill then,make do with this.
      7)Let’s ensure that benue is for better as we disagree and in our exchange of correspondences.
      8)In the unpopular mood of aso rock,I wish you a fulani-free centenary celebration.

      Like

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