There have been several calls from leaders and the masses from Southern Nigeria to abolish the peripatetic grazing business due to the challenges and setbacks resulting in herders and farmers clashes and other forms of insecurity.
We can’t dispel the brio,verve and industry of an average Fulani herder. Their brinkmanship is awesome but the brigandage in the ruffians in their midst is no doubt condemnable. Herding livestocks is a pastime, trade and occupation of the Fulani and they certainly ennoble their pastoral and bridge-and-tunnel lifestyle. Child abuse is a highly criticised notion and so allowing an underage child in herding job is both callous treatment and brobdingnagian form of child abuse.The call-out to abolish underaged children from nomadic grazing of cattle is a positive paradigm shift.
In performing this occupation, their safety and education is badly straitened and short-changed. Due to young children’s poor judgement, this also leads to the animals straying into farmers’ farms and thereby causing damage to crops and leading to clashes between the herders and farmers. Education is unarguably the bedrock of every nation’s progress and so a genius among the Fulani’s children who has the brainpower to be a matchless and world-ranking intellectual gets reduced to herding in the bushes. The education of those young children is badly affected because they have none or a short time to attend school. The health of these children is affected too. The children might end up dying from mysterious ailments due to harsh weather conditions, having acute malaria and yellow fever due to mosquitoes’ bites, they may even get bitten by fatal snakes. These young children need to live happily and enjoyably and benefit from all life’s comfort.
The world is making a meteoric progress in technological development. Application of technology in our daily endeavours is now the trend. Technology helps us do what we want to do with utmost ease and speed. There is therefore supposed to be a change in the mindsets of the Fulani herders about their occupation. They need to change their bridge-and-tunnel life and peripatetic nature to a home breeding of their livestock and at least government seems willing to help out by coming out with the blueprints of “Ruga” settlements. The herders need to appreciate the dynamic perspective of our world today because things in this century of ours keep changing exponentially because it’s a technology-driven century.
The peripatetic herding tends to be an archaic trend with no substantial economic benefit considering the hardship they go through in return. An age has come when herders need to have a rethink about their spartan lifestyle so that they would come to enjoy a better life to the point of relish. They need to appreciate modern methods of livestock keeping. They should employ silaging and acquire pasturages, homesteads for easier management of their livestocks and deadstocks. Silaging would give them a good avenue and alternative so that they can have the grass to feed their livestocks all year round without having to travel long distances in sometimes futile search of nutritive pastures. This system would give their children an ample opportunity to attend school. The home raising of livestock can also reduce rustling by appreciable percentage thereby reducing the fears of the herders of being attacked by armed robbers, marauders and rustlers and greatly reduce the chances of losing their life fortunes overnight.
Abolishment of underaged children into grazing animals job is a very welcome idea and would surely have a virtuous cycle. When those underaged children attend school, the nation would benefit greatly because the policy of ensuring every child gets educated is enshrined and would surely reduce the rate of illiteracy bedeviling Nigeria and would also surely reduce the perennial brawls between herders and farmers.
Maryam Adamu Muhammad,
Department of Mass Communication,
Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic,