Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae, has disclosed how his farmland has been attacked five times by herdsmen within three years.
Falae believed the motive for repeated attacks on his farm were to kill him, just as he vowed that Yoruba will never allow establishment of cattle colonies in the region.
Falae spoke with newsmen, after government officials and the state Police Commissioner, Olugbenga Adeyanju, visited his burnt farm in Ilado, in Akure North area of Ondo State.
The former SGF specifically expressed disappointment with President Muhammadu Buhari’s silence on the Sunday attack.
“My farm has been destroyed five times within three years and it’s a deliberate means to probably kill me, run me out of business and away from the farmland, which is not possible. “There shall not be cattle colonies in any part of Yorubaland. It’s a fraud.
On president Buhari’s silence on Fulani herdsmen attacks on farmers, Falae said: “I have expected him, for over two years, to take an initiative and make a national broadcast to his people in Nigeria and assure us that he will handle the matter by announcing effective measures that could control the rapacity of the herdsmen.
“He has failed to assure Nigerians that both the herdsmen and us can live together, in peace, without one side damaging the other. I am disappointed I’ve not heard this from him.
“If I were president, I would have taken the initiative because this is not a problem that cannot be solved. Many nations have gone through this; this mode of cattle rearing is universal but, in the last 100 years, most nations have solved the problem by adopting ranching.
“Ranching is cattle farming and a legitimate and very profitable business, run by private businessmen but they are trying to take my crops to feed their cattle, to subsidise their own business because they are forcing me by invading my farm in the night, to supply free food to their cattle and when they sell the cattle, they don’t give me part of the money.
“This is a system that cannot survive and I expected the government to have stopped it; we are not saying cattle rearing should be stopped, but, the cattle rearers should be assisted to set up or do their business without hurting anybody. Hurting farmers is not acceptable.
“What they did to my farm is not a question of cattle eating grass; it is a matter of people destroying other people’s means of livelihood consciously, maliciously and deliberately. “They set the farm on fire overnight and did it one after the other. They burnt them, why? Cattle does not feed on palm trees; they just wanted to destroy my assets. This is an attack on my livelihood; on what I possess.
“It is continuous, they do it every year. For the agriculture people, this is an attack to our food production. People are afraid now to plant, they do not have guarantees that they would not destroy it. They have destroyed my 10 hectares of cassava. Whoever borrows money to plant now, the asset will be ruined. I thank God that the road that divides the plantation and with the help of those who were in the farm yesterday (Sunday) night, they were able to prevent further damage. They limited the spread. The intention is what worries me; that some Nigerians deliberately want to destroy properties of other Nigerians.
Thank God, since 1960 we are no longer a colony. “In Nigeria, to mention the word colony has political connotation not economic. A colony is a political entity which someone said he wants to create in the territory of another; that is a provocation; that is terrible thing for anybody to contemplate…In any case with what is going on, I can tell you as a leader of our race, the Yoruba people will not concede one inch of its territory as a colony to another person.
Meanwhile, in Abuja, president Buhari assured Nigerians that increasing cases of killings being carried out by suspected herdsmen in communities across the country would soon be brought under control.
He said security agents deployed to affected areas would achieve the feat in no distant time.
Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the president gave the assurance when he received the Board of Directors of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
“The president assured Nigerians that the rising attacks on communities by herdsmen will soon be brought under control by security forces deployed to the vulnerable areas across the country,” he said.