Even as we tackle the Fulani menace in parts of the Ashanti Region, a security analyst, Dr. Kwesi Aning, is calling for a revision of the strategy. “Operation Cow Leg, driven by the shoot the cattle strategy, is confrontational, is dangerous, is aggravating the problem,” Aning notes.
Corroborating this stance is Director of the Animal Research Institute of the Council for Scientific Research (CSIR), Professor E. K. Adu, who also addressed the manner in which government is tackling the Fulani menace by advising it to tread cautiously.
Professor Adu reminds us that even as we launch reprisals at the herdsmen, the people who own the cows are Ghanaians; thus, there is a need to engage the cattle owners themselves. Dr. Adu warns that the Fulani ethnic group, which he said constitutes a substantial population within the Sahel region, may respond with equal force and thereby escalate the problem.
The position of this Paper is an ambivalent one, since we acknowledge the seriousness of the problem and what farming communities suffer at the hands of these herders. Especially since the situation is not limited to Ghana, as Nigeria recently had to bury the dead who had been embroiled in recent Fulani attacks.
This problem has existed for centuries, whereby cattle grazers come into conflict with farmers determined to protect their crops. The utmost tact is required in dealing with this problem, and indiscriminately killing cows is not a solution to the problem. It only aggravates it and heightens the security situation.
The problem appears to be escalating, with the herdsmen emboldened enough to attack ‘men in uniform’ – which can equally be viewed as an attack on the state. We propose a dialogue with cattle owners to impress upon them the seriousness of the situation, and that they will be held responsible if any security personnel are hurt or even killed in carrying out orders.
The communities must also desist from exacting vengeance on the animals, and the herders must allow the security agencies to tackle the matter as they see fit. Such reprisal attacks only heighten the tension and makes communities in such zones unsafe.
Let us holistically deal with this menace in a manner that satisfies all sides, rather than this tit-for-tat approach. The presence of the security personnel in itself should be enough deterrent to put the fear of God in these herders.