Pastoralism in Nigeria,MACBAN and Ngelzarma Changing Narratives.
By: Sani Danaudi Mohammed
A pastoral society is one that depends primarily upon herding livestock for its existence rather than agriculture. It is a truly sustainable culture in that it relies upon resources that may be replenished without diminishing their numbers or availability.The term pastoralism comes from the Latin word ''pastor,'' which means ''shepherd.The origins of pastoralism date back to around 8500-6500 BCE. Pastoralism is a stage in human development between early hunter-gatherers and agricultural communities.
The Pastoralists sometimes called herders are found in countries such as Nigeria,Niger, Senegal, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, and Cameroon. In Senegal,they inhabit northeastern Ferlo and the southeastern part of the country. In many of these countries the Fula often constitute a minority group.Fulani herdsmen build domed houses called suudu hudo or bukkaru made from grasses.During the dry season,these houses are often supported with compact millet stalk pillars; in the wet or rainy season, they are supported by reed mats held together and tied against wood poles.
The advantage of the bukkaru house is that it is mobile and easy to set up and dismantle. When it is time to relocate, the houses are dismantled and loaded onto a camel, horses, donkeys, or sometimes cattle for transport.In recent times some herdsmen now live in mud or concrete block houses.The historical antecedents of these herders has shown that,they are as older than the present day Nigeria where they are becoming victims of ineffective Government policies and programs.
In Nigeria,Fulani pastoralists started migrating into northern Nigeria from the Senegambia region around the thirteenth or fourteenth century.After the Uthman dan Fodio jihad, the Fulani became integrated into the Hausa culture of Northern Nigeria.Thereafter, during the dry season when the tsetse fly population is reduced, Fulani pastoralists began to drive their cattle into the Middle Belt zone dominated by non-Hausa groups, returning to the north at the onset of the rainy season. But while managing the herd and driving cattle, cattle grazing on farmlands sometimes occurs, leading to destruction of crops and becoming a source of conflict.
The land use act of 1978 allowed the State or Federal Government the right to assign and lease land and also gave indigenes the right to apply and be given a certificate of occupancy to claim ownership of their ancestral lands. This placed the pastoral Fulani in a difficult position because most did not apply for lands of occupancy of their grazing routes, and recurring trans-humance movement led to encroachment on the properties of others.The designed areas known as grazing routes by the Nigerian Government have been taken over by farmers making the herders free movement a great concerns as in when due leading to clashes.
Thousands of these herders have been killed as a result of Clashes between farmers and semi-nomadic herders leaving them at the mercy of advocacy groups such as Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and others.It is a loose partisan advocacy group centered on promoting the welfare of Fulani pastoralists in Nigeria.The organization was founded in the early 1970s with headquarters in Kaduna. It became legally operational in 1979 and gained wider acceptance as an advocacy group in 1987.
The major goal of MACBAN is to be the umbrella organization of Fulani herdsmen within the country.The activities of the organization involves liaising with the government on behalf of pastoralists,land use rights, nomadic education and conflict resolution between pastoralists and farmers.It also supports in protecting and increasing grazing reserves for cattle breeders in the country.Though,not all pastoralists intend to stay within grazing reserves and the organization provides information to convince grazing reserve skeptics among the nomads to buy into the idea.
As the major Promoter of welfare of Fulani pastoralists,increase incidences in farmer-herder conflicts and cattle rustling Since the returns of the fourth Republic in 1999 have brought the previously little known group into wider attention.The group's board of trustees is led by the Sultan of Sokoto and it receives funding from the board and other donors.The national Chairman is elected every four years. When MACBAN was founded, it received support from Sultan Abubakar III, Aminu, the Emir of Zazzau, Usman Nagogo, the Emir of Katsina and Ado Bayero, the late Emir of Kano.The emirs of these emirates compose a part of the group's board of trustees.
Not withstanding,Many of these Pastoralists have lost confidence on the leadership of the Many organizations that failed for decades to protect the welfare and interest of their interest across boards.It is an unarguable discourse that these Pastoralists has continue to suffered many casualties across the country and in the North Central in Particular.
The recent Killings of yet to be identified number of herders and their cattles in Doma LGA of Nasarawa on the way from Benue State are one of the recent sad incidents that continue unabated.Since the return of the fourth Republic in 1999,Many of these herders have been killed, thousands displaced and millions lost their livelihood.Government on its part has continue to assure them of maximum protection of their lives and properties in the midst of recurrent miscarriage of injustices against them.
The leadership of many of these Fulani Organizations have failed shot of an active voices to defend the interest of their members as many are been accused of reducing themselves to political agents of Political elites.This has made these organizations to lost completely the respect of the helpless pastoralists dwelling for survival in the rural areas.Not all may agreed that,the herdsmen benefited and are benefiting nothing directly or indirectly from the Government despite different interventions.I am yet to see an event where chunk of herders are been empowered by either the Federal or States Government.
THE NGELZARMA NEW ERA
Since the election of Baba Usman Ngelzarma as the New National President of Miyetti Allah Cattles Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN),there has been new turns of events especially the manner some of the comments that are edging up from some vested interest groups.This may be due to his experience in managing both private and public sectors as a retired Civil Servant.Apart been a Special adviser to the Executive Governor of Yobe State,His Excellency Mai Mala Buni of Agriculture where the interest of these herders are placed,he works and retired under Yobe State Government of Nigeria.
He is currently Championing and reflecting on the urgent need of the Herders across the country by launching the CORE as a Mandate of his new down in the affairs of Miyetti Allah Cattles Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN).Ngelzarma has decided to consults widely with relevant Stakeholders that includes the Security agencies, political groups and most importantly with the affected herders themselves.The next step is an ethical Orientation of these herders on key issues that that will help greatly in ending their problems, Reintegrating and Empowerment of the Pastoralists as an entity is aim at addressing once the challenges been experiences for quite sometime now .
At the Peak of these well articulated plans to rebuild as well as grassroots mobilization of the Pastoralists to join these reforms by MACBAN under Baba Usman Ngelzarma.It has not been without some Challenges from those who have woefully failed to salvage these herders from these traumas.This is because, immediately he was sworn in as the National President, Names Calling and name swinging is now the order of the day from others who see themselves as Sister Organizations to which MACBAN is mother and the father of all.As a herder myself, Miyetti Allah Cattles Breeders Association of Nigeria Stands out among any Organization that itself as a sister organization considering its wide acceptance and structures across every Ruga and Suudu of all herders in Nigeria.
This is should be the focus of all to restore back the lost confidence of MACBAN that is anchored of peace building and the Unity of Nigeria.
Danaudi, National President of Arewa Youths Advocate for Peace and Unity Initiative Writes from Bauchi via firstname.lastname@example.org.