Opinions Fri, 23 Feb 2018

When the Fulani raise red flag

For the first time since the Fulani menace became a national issue, a sore subject of course, a delegation of elders from the ethnic group domiciled in both Nkawkaw and Koforidua have sent an SOS to the National Chief Imam Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu about what they say is the precarious situation they find themselves in.

While it would seem that there is a lull in hostilities, the reality on the ground points at the contrary; the narration of the delegation which met the Islamic cleric a few days ago suggests.

Primed with what they told the cleric are pictorial evidences of dead cattle lying prostrate after being shot by soldiers deployed to prosecute the anti-Fulani operation in the Eastern Region, they claim that the anomaly, if left unaddressed, could threaten national peace.

We have no doubt about the potential threat to national security the Fulani issue is. We do not agree with the delegation though that soldiers have been given the green light to shoot to kill cattle in the area of their operation.

It is important that this impression is erased so that the relationship between the Fulani resident in both Nkawkaw and Koforidua and other parts of the country and the security agents is not further worsened.

Indeed there is bad blood between the indigenous people of both locations and other areas where the clashes have been endemic between them and the Fulanis.

That the delegation went to meet the National Chief Imam with a view to having him intervene suggests that matters are really getting out of hand.

If indeed cattle are being shot at sight as the delegation told the cleric, it would not be long before we record a standoff between the owners of the cattle on one side and the security agents and the locals on another.

The Chief Imam has called on the Ministers of Defence, the Interior and National Security to address the issue of cattle being shot at sight. An investigation must be undertaken to establish the veracity of the allegation anyway before any conclusion is drawn.

Having lived among the indigenes and possibly been assimilated through intermarriages, there is a cause to get worried when the relationship gets sour and deteriorates to the level of fisticuffs and the use of firearms.

We are pleased that President Akufo-Addo has offered a long term solution which is the ranching and kraal system for all cattle owners. While this is the modern way of raising cattle, it also addresses the incessant destruction of food and cash crops by the grazing animals.

As noted in a previous editorial, the Fulani challenge is not limited to Ghana but all over the sub-region especially in Nigeria where it is even worse than being noticed here. In Benue State in that country, for instance, where there have been fatalities just like in Ghana, the ranching system has been planned.

When eventually the system is rolled out nomadic Fulani should not be allowed under any circumstance to continue the old ways of free ranging – the source of avoidable bloodshed.
Columnist: dailyguideafrica.com