Saturday, 6 February 2016
WE MUST ALL HELP IN THE PEACE BUILDING PROCESS.
The activities of nomadic Fulani herdsmen have been with us for more than two decades. Every now and then, we have reports of violent clashes between the herdsmen and their hosts.
The most disturbing of the clashes occur in Agogo in the Asante Akyem West of the Ashanti Region, and it has become more or less an annual ritual. The current impasse between the two parties though not surprising, is certainly unfortunate.
We are told that in a spate of just about two years or so, about 30 people have lost their lives in Agogo as a result of the fulani menace. The recent violence, we are told was triggered by the death of a 27 year old Agogo citizen, who was allegedly killed by the fulani herdsmen.
The Regional Security Council must be commended for the timely deployment of security personnel to help contain the situation. Again, the swift action from the acting Inspector General of Police, the Chief of Defence Staff and the National Security Council, by moving to the community to engage the people and reassure them of their resolve to find a lasting solution to the challenge is highly commendable.
Though, statistics are hard to come by, it is estimated that there are about 5,000 or more of Fulani herdsmen in Ghana most of whom are into cattle business.
Having said that, one cannot deny the fact that, not all fulani herdsmen are foreigners, likewise, not all the cattle are brought from outside Ghana. It is an open secret that a number of Ghanaians, including highly influential ones also own some of these cattle and engage the services of the fulanis to take care of them on their behalf. It is therefore not surprising that not much progress has been made in our quest to flush out the fulanis especially from the Agogo area.
Be that as it may, we must approach the fulani menace as a national security matter which must be handled with utmost care. Proper and thorough investigations must be conducted into the whole saga. We need to know how the fulanis get into the country, who authorises them to settle in one area or the other, and also find out whether or not it is true that some chiefs and opinion leaders are involved in one way or the other.
Until we are able to determine all these ingredients, it will be a fruitless exercise to think of resolving the issue. It is sad that, recently, some youth of Agogo, led by the MP organised a news conference and made all kinds of pronouncements, which more or less amounted to incitement of violence. That was too bad.
We should commend the regional police command for daring to arrest the MP and his associates for that conduct. Even though the MP and the minority leadership in Parliament, erroneously want us to believe that the MP is protected by parliamentary privileges. That is certainly not the case, the MP is only immuned against comments he made on the floor of Parliament. Be that as it may, we commend the acting IGP for taking up the matter. Going forward, let us all help the national security task force as they embark on another road map to resolve the matter. This should not suffer the fate of operation cow leg.
We are told that here are efforts to flush the fulanis out of Agogo, but one question that we need to answer is, to where?
Already, we have complaints from the Eastern and Volta regions of a surge in the influx of fulanis into their regions. Are we not therefore cutting our nose to spite our face? Attempting to push them out of the country may not be a good idea as it may have some consequences for us as a nation and Ghanaian nationals in the neighbouring countries. We should be aware of AU and ECOWAS protocols that we have committed ourselves to with regard to free movement of people and goods.
It is suggested that the best way forward is the creation of fodder banks, and confinement of the cattle to ensure that they do not stray. By so doing, everyone can leave in peace and go about his or her activities without hindrance.
In this case, the farmers of Agogo will have the peace to farm without destruction from the cattle, and the fulanis will also not have their cattle killed by the farmers. Ultimately, peace will be restored.
Ghana's Youth Ambassador to the Commonwealth