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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

Finally, an Association of Fulanis in Ghana has emerged

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Folks, we have long speculated that the controversy provoked by the marauding activities of the nomadic Fulani herdsmen in the country would give rise to a political ambit to be created for the purposes of protecting the broad interests of Fulanis in Ghana.

Oh, how true it is now!! And what implications and challenges will that have in our country, especially in the context of the government’s inability to amicably solve the problem?

The controversy surrounding the activities of the Fulani herdsmen in Ghana is assuming frightening dimensions that we must not gloss over. Having plied their nomadic trade of animal husbandry all over the country and destroyed life and property, these Fulanis seem not to know the extent to which they have provoked public anger against them; neither do they care a whiff about the implications.

What must really be propping them up this way? What must be giving them the conviction and confidence that they can continue stepping on toes without any fear of or regard for the repercussions?

Those of us who have written opinion pieces on the Fulani menace haven’t minced words in saying that it is a major problem that has destabilized social and economic lives in many parts of the country where the Fulani presence is established and felt.

We have questioned the lethargy of the political authorities (including the government and its functionaries, chiefs, opinion leaders, and prominent people in the areas so far invaded and devastated by the Fulanis and their marauding cattle). We will continue to do so until something drastic is done to solve the problem.

We will do so in the context of the negative politics being done about this Fulani menace. Evidence exists that wherever these nomadic Fulanis go, chaos erupts—as their freely grazing cattle devour anything “green” in front of them, mostly the crops of Ghanaian farmers struggling to eke out their livelihood through their God-given asset.

Of all the areas so far trampled upon, the Asante Akyim area in the Asante region stands out for comment because of the ramifications of the Fulani menace. We don’t want to recount all the instances but we can say with all confidence here that nothing is happening to solve the problem despite the shedding of blood and the massive destruction of crops by the Fulani herdsmen.

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 end it. 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 what venom they can muster up?

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 these Fulani herdsmen are operating on behalf of powerful people who have employed them to do their bidding and are weaving 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 the messenger solve any problem?

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 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.

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 situation. 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 deteriorate 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 expected. 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. It is a simple issue of symbiotic existence, which means that none should ply his/her trade to the disadvantage of the other.

And it has to take a determined, purposeful, and well-informed government to secure the lines. Is that what we have in place?

I shall return…

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