Callous Herdsmen Attacked Butcher, Raped Woman– Taiga, Urhobo Leader

 •Says over 300 cattle-rearers occupy two communities in Ughelli LGA
By Dapo Akinrefon, Dep. Regional Editor, South West
Olorogun Moses Taiga is the President General, Urhobo Progress Union, UPU. In this interview, Taiga advocates a return to the 1960 and 1963 constitutions, which he believes would move the country forward. He also bares his mind on the activities of herdsmen in Urhoboland even as he insists that no single inch of Urhoboland land would be allocated for cattle colony.
Attacks by herdsmen on their host communities, especially farmers, across the country pose threat to the unity of Nigeria. How can this menace be addressed?
Nigeria must first look inwards, if it must address the challenge; otherwise we will continue to make noise and, at the end of the day, nothing concrete will come out. It is a critical issue that deserves serious attention from all stakeholders in the Nigeria project. As it is currently, herdsmen activities across the country have raised tensions and our various governments must be very proactive in addressing the issue as soon as possible. We need to go back to the automation system whereby we used rail and trucks to transport cattle to the South. For example, in Sagamu, they used to bring cattle by train and take kolanut to the North through the same means. We need to reactivate that. I learned that Ajaokuta-Warri rail line would be commissioned before the end of the year. They are also working on the Lagos-Ibadan rail line. With pockets of such projects, I believe the situation will improve. Besides, the roads are not too bad for trucks to bring cattle down to the South. During Christmas, I used to send people as far as Sokoto to buy cows for me to distribute to my communities, which they bring in trucks. So, we cannot abandon what worked for us before. There are trucks coming to buy diesel and petrol all the way from the North. They are there in Apapa, Warri and Port Harcourt to carry the products up North. So, what is the problem using the rail and roads for cattle transportation? We also need to start planting trees so that we can reclaim the land that has been lost to desertification. Recently, the Economic Intelligent Unit published by the London Economist said that 57 per cent of our arable land is gone. Togo is the worst with 79 per cent. We need to develop land for grazing by planting trees that will create foliage.
Do you agree with the argument that the killer herdsmen are not the real Fulani herdsmen living in the communities, but migrant Bororo who are very elusive to track?
I really don’t know whether the attackers are the Bororo or whatever name you call them. Recently, I attended a meeting of Southern Leaders’ Conference held in Lagos. And the South-West zone, which has been keeping statistics, noted that up to 2015, there were only about 50 cattle herdsmen’s settlements in the region. But suddenly between 2016 and 2017, the figure grew to 127. That is an increment of about three folds in one year. It is possible they have an objective for coming, but we do not know what their objective is. What we do know is that their land in the North has become bare as a result of deforestation. When the land becomes bare, they try to move down South. That is why I am suggesting that the Federal Government should reverse that trend. If at all they have to come with their cattle, they should move them by rail and road. I don’t buy the excuse that the attackers are difficult to track. I also don’t buy the excuse that they are foreigners from Niger. This is a problem that was not there before and has now become a real problem. Read full interview here.

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