SOCIO-cultural body the Tiv Youth Organisation (TYO) has vowed to defend its land with every last drop of blood in the wake of recent decision by the Nigerian federal government to establish 368 grazing sites across 25 states of the country.
Over recent years, Tivland has borne the brunt of the ongoing murderous campaign by Fulani cattle herdsmen who have laid waste to large swathes of Nigeria. Their livestock destroy farmlands and when villagers complain, the heavily-armed herdsmen attack local communities, sometimes leaving dozens dead.
President Muhammadu Buhari has come under intense criticism for not only failing to address the problem but for giving tacit support to the herdsmen. Being an ethnic Fulani who owns cattle himself, President Buhari has been accused of turning a blind eye to the orgy of violence and his body language is said have encouraged the herdsmen.
Last week, President Buhari issued an executive order calling for a review of the 368 grazing sites across 25 states in the country. According to the TYO, this particular move by the president has confirmed its fears and conviction that the current government is pursuing a war agenda to take over Tiv land and give it to Fulani pastoralists.
Timothy Hembaor, the TYO president, said: “The Sokoto jihad started this in the 19th century and it failed. The Fulani could not overrun Tivland and the progress we have made is enough to enable us hold the line of defence drawn by our courageous forebears.
“We, the Tiv Youth Organization, wish to tell Mr President and all those anchoring the devilish occupation agenda that not even one parcel of Benue land will be given for grazing reserves. If a committee has been appointed to tackle the issue of grazing sites, Tivland and indeed Benue State is not aware of it and such a recommendation, therefore, has no application over the state.
“Grazing sites do not exist in Benue State and if cattle were allowed to move through Benue to various places in the country and elsewhere, such routes are no more. As a result of population explosion, the land that hitherto lay desolate has been occupied by various communities who eke out a living daily to survive.
“Muhammadu Buhari and his presidency erroneously assume that Nigerians can be taken for granted but he must know as a soldier that when push comes to shove, even the most docile people react. The resilience of the Tiv which saw the defeat of Usman Dan Fodio and his Jihadist warriors at Ushongo Hills in 1808 must not be underestimated.
“No other nationality has been harangued by the Nigerian state like what has happened to us since 2015 yet, we still hold our heads high. At least, we are still feeding Nigeria as the food basket of the nation even though going to the farm has become a game of Russian roulette, as Buhari’s kith and kin, enjoying his support have hunted the Tiv like game.
“Now we know why Ibrahim Babangida removed him from power on 27th August, 1985. As soldiers, Babangida knew him more than we did, even as he showed us what he truly is.
“He has not changed and his poor pretence as a democrat are pitifully unconscionable and unconvincing. He wears an unfit democratic gown and he pulls it off as soon as he retires to his house and wears the toga of a militia.
“Behind the veil, Nigerians see the same military dictator who ruled with an iron fist till he was overthrown in 1984, he has not changed and the smile on his face is deceitful. He doesn’t believe in democracy and the right of the people to freedom of speech and property and in his sight, the right of a cow takes prominence over that of humans.
“That’s who we now have as president as Nigeria made a costly mistake in 2015 and if this country survives till 2023, thanksgiving services must be held in every surviving home. The people of Benue and Nigeria will rise and reject the grazing routes Buhari wants to create for his tribesmen and the design to turn Nigeria into an emirate will never see the light of the day.
“Naturally, the Tiv are in Central Nigeria and while grazing routes can be established up north, they will not pass through Benue and we are sure our brethren from the east will support us to resist the evil genie that is knocking on our door. We know Buhari does not listen to superior advice but he must know that the quest to divide our land to offer safe passage to his marauding kinsmen may be the final straw for his presidency.
“He will have to kill every Tiv person to make it happen and that will not happen because the world has moved from his frozen mindset, a thought process that believes in parochial feudalism, religious fanaticism and fundamentalism. Cows and other livestock spook easily when blood desecrates the land and Benue won’t be such land.”