Foremost constitutional lawyer and leader of The Patriots, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, has alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari is using the proposed cattle colonies scheme to pursue a “Fulani supremacy agenda” earlier promoted by the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello.
Describing cattle colonies as ‘settlements’ of Fulani herdsmen in all parts of the country, he warned that the plan to create such settlements would worsen the crisis between herdsmen and farmers.
The elder statesman recalled that the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, had suggested that a colony of about 30,000 cows will require up to 300 herdsmen, who will settle in the facility with their families and relatives.
He spoke in a paper entitled, ‘President Buhari should not lure us into the deadly trap of establishing cattle colonies for Fulani herdsmen in every state of the federation,’ wherein warning was delivered regarding the religious, political and legal implications of the scheme.
Nwabueze said, “In considering the religious implications of establishing cattle colonies in every state of the federation, it is necessary to recall to mind what Sheikh Gumi wrote about Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto.
“According to Gumi, the Sardauna’s well-known agenda of consolidating and perpetuating the idea of Northern Nigeria as one united entity “was not borne out of political consideration only,” but was also conceived as “a personal mission” handed down to him by his forebear, Sheikh Dan Fodio.
“The agenda had an accompanying ideology whose object, as articulated by the Sardauna, is to maintain Northern Nigeria as a theocracy ruled by a Muslim claiming to be divinely directed, with utter disdain for democracy, and with the Sharia as the supreme governing law; the non-Muslim minority ethnic groups in the North are to be used as “willing tools” and the South is to be subjugated and reduced to “a conquered territory,” which is not to be allowed to “have control over their future”.
“The Sarduana had conceived a kind of jihad, for the pursuit and possible accomplishment of his agenda, an agenda which President Buhari has now vowed to carry on to a finish.”
Nwabueze further observed that Sardauna’s forebear, Usman dan Fodio, initiated the Fulani supremacy agenda when, between 1804 and 1808, he overran all the Hausa kingdoms and some other neighbouring communities, dethroned their rulers, installed Fulani emirs in their places, and imposed the Muslim religion on them.
“Thus was Hausaland together with other conquered lands, Islamised, and a caliphate established over Sokoto, with Dan Fodio as its Sultan. That was the price the Hausa paid for their hospitality in granting access to grazing land to the Fulani immigrant settlers,” he noted.
Speaking of the legal and political implications of the plan, Nwabueze said, “The minister’s (Ogbeh’s) emphasis on the process of acquiring land for the colony is misdirected. The issue is not so much about the process for acquiring land, but about the ownership of the land after it is acquired and, more important, about the right to the exclusive use, the management and control of the land so acquired.
“Does the ownership of the land belong to the Federal Government, or to traditional communities, villages and families supposed to have been divested of it? Does the right to the exclusive use, management and control of the land belong to the Federal Government, the cattle owners or the herdsmen?
“Perhaps, more worrisome, is the issue of the relationship of the Fulani herdsmen settled on the land and the political authorities in the state – the state government, the local government authorities and the traditional authorities, the town unions, the community development associations, the civil defence and vigilante groups, etc.
“Will the Fulani herdsmen settled on the land, the cattle owners and their association, the Miyetti Allah, not constitute themselves a “state” within a state?”
The convener of Igbo Leaders of Thought declared that the establishment of cattle colonies would not solve the problem for which it was proposed, insisting the scheme would rather aggravate the situation.
“From the minister’s presentation, the cattle colony scheme may magnify the problems beyond what they presently are,” he said, adding that “The scheme is not intended to, and will not, stop the open grazing practice, which is the main cause of the problem. It may well reduce, but will not completely stop it.”
The elder statesman therefore advised Nigerians to “beware” of the planned cattle colonies.