By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Monday, July 25, 2016
Several efforts at an amicable solution have failed. The government’s deploying of security personnel hasn’t solved the problem either. Neither will the NPP’s Akufo-Addo’s impulsive promise to tackle the problem when put in power end it. What can he offer now to solve the problem? Nothing!! So, where does it take us, even as many reports from other parts of the country indicate that the local people are gearing up to take on these Fulani herdsmen with whatever venom they can muster up? And when the Fulani herdsmen are arming themselves with powerful weapons (AK 47, for instance) that the local people don’t have?
And why are these Fulani herdsmen so headstrong in pursuing their agenda despite the obvious threats posed to them and their cattle wherever they go or establish themselves? They are operating with impunity because they know they will prevail. But what makes them so confident?
Some allegations have circulated that they are operating on behalf of powerful people in government and the chieftaincy institution (or is it the local economic forces) who have employed them to do their bidding and are weaving and thickening the safety net to protect them. If it were so, it must be stated here and now that no amount of pressure or resistance from the ground can uproot them. We know how unconscionable people pursuing their causes and supported by whatever means the system provides can do things. Is it really true that these Fulani herdsmen are mere messengers bearing messages given them by their faceless handlers? If so, will killing them solve any problem? Not really.
As if determined to protect their own interests, the Fulanis have now gone a step close to rationalizing their activities and establishing their kind of stranglehold on the situation. It has been reported that an Association of Fulanis has been formed to protect the interests of Fulanis in Ghana. Alarming, especially if viewed in the context of ethnicity! Are all Fulanis in Ghana engaged in animal husbandry to feel so threatened by what is happening? If so, wow!! If not so, then, what? Alarm!!
Why are the Fulanis coming together now on the basis of public outcry against the devastating impact of the activities of the herdsmen and their cattle? Is this Association of Fulanis (in Ghana) merely going to work for the good of the nomads being accused of damaging the interests of Ghanaians whose means of livelihood their uncontrolled animal husbandry practices have threatened? What exactly is the need for this association? I smell a lot of ammonia here!!
Is this Association registered already? There is a lot to dig into to establish its real motives. If it is geared toward defending the interests of the herdsmen, a lot has to be fished out as to how it will do so. There is already knowledge about their arming themselves and doing a lot more that should be of interest to national security.
If the objective of this association is to protect the interests of all Fulanis in Ghana, then, the alarm level rises. Clearly, not all Fulanis are cattle rearers. So, if there is public concern about the activities of only the segment that is rearing cattle and moving about to destroy crops and other property of equally struggling Ghanaians, what will be the need for an Association of Fulanis to be formed at this stage?
And more importantly, why should the matter involve all Fulanis worldwide? I foresee a lot here that the government should look into. We already to have too many crises verging on chieftaincy and ethnic problems. No need for a Fulani one!!
I wonder why the impunity on the part of these Fulanis to do things this way. Demographically speaking, they are migrants, a settler community, and should know their station in the Ghanaian socio-cultural situation, the provisions of the national Constitution notwithstanding. This opinion is not aimed at denigrating them but at urging them to know how to pull strings so they don’t end up stoking the fire that they themselves have lit to burn them.
I don’t want to prolong matters. At this point, it is important that the government stamp its control over the situation to ensure that this Fulani menace doesn’t degenerate into something terrible for the country. We have been talking about it ever since it emerged as a serious national security issue, but little seems to be coming from the official quarters to solve it. Now that there is this international massing up of forces to defend the Fulani interest in Ghana, the issue is assuming a more terrifying dimension than suspected. The government must act promptly to save a nasty situation in the near future.
It is not that non-Fulanis don’t want the Fulanis to live in Ghana and ply their trade (at least, those who are nomadic herdsmen among them). It is all because of how they operate with impunity, moving their animals about to destroy the property of those who are not what they are. If they can control their activities and live at peace with others, there should be no room for enmity, animosity, rancour, or bitterness.
After all, their trade provides the meat that the poor farmers need while they also need the crops produced by the poor famers. At a larger level, thei9r human resources also feed the Ghanaian population even as they benefit from whatever human facility pleases them. It is still a matter of symbiotic existence to sustain—a simple issue of give-and-take for mutual benefits, which means that none should ply his trade to the disadvantage of the other—which all stakeholders must uphold and defend.
And it has to take a determined, purposeful, and well-informed government to secure the lines. Is that what we have in place?
The truth must be underlined here that those against the activities of the Fulanis are not schizophrenic or savages who hate to see others make progress in their chosen fields of human endeavour. They are simply unhappy that the Fulani presence undermines their own chosen vocations. They won’t lose any sleep if their crops and other property are not endangered by these Fulani herdsmen whom they have accommodated for as long as the Fulanis have been in Ghana, moving their animals about to validate their existence as contributors to the economic index of human substance. But the problem now is that the devastation being caused by the uncontrolled grazing is intolerable. It is clear that the Fulani herdsmen have found some “authority” somewhere to move their activities a notch higher with the wrong impact.
Nobody will take them on if they don’t encroach on others’ legitimate means of livelihood. And rather painfully, they do so with an irritating an impunity that makes the victims wonder whether there is any system of law and order to secure individual rights to property and personal security in his/her own traditional home before the influx of the Fulanis. That is where the beef lies for the government to act on.
Left to the aggrieved sections of the populace alone, anything could go; but it shouldn’t be so in a democracy. That is why the ball is being pushed into the court of the government (the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary) so something reasonably fulfilling can be done to solve the problem.
So far, it has only been the Executive that has put in place some half-hearted measures. No closure. The Legislature isn’t working on the problem to pass laws to be interpreted and enforced so the problem can be solved once and for all so those with a stake in space and resources in the country can have their peace of mind and do what will put bread on the table. Why are our public officials so callous?
At this point, it is clear that the Fulanis will mobilize whatever forces (economic, political, ideological, etc.) that they can identify to fight their cause in Ghana. Then, when all is set for an explosion, the wailing, weeping, and gnashing of teeth will become the lot of those who have no political connections to exploit. Too pathetic for Ghana’s democracy at this stage.
Let’s not be deceived. This Fulani menace can’t be left for the Mahama-led administration alone to solve. That is why I implore the NPP’s Akufo-Addo to show leadership by offering constructive ideas toward solving this Fulani menace instead of being evasive and childish to claim that he will solve the problem only if given the mandate to rule Ghana. What sort of patriotic citizen will go this way?
I shall return…
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