Monday, January 8, 2018 marked 18 years of the birth of the Tertiary Students Confederacy (TESCON), the tertiary students’ wing of the great Elephant Family, the New Patriotic Party (NPP). We had waited a while, as we prepared our birthday present.
Although still a teenager, this baby has rapidly evolved into a very powerful political wing of the NPP largely through its genius at mobilizing people at the grassroots level. We, the Patrons of TESCON in Ghana, will like to commend our baby and its foresighted founding members for bringing about this noble idea that today stands as a monument to students’ political activism.
We will also like to present this birthday cake to YOU. It is our expectation that you will share this birthday present with the government and the citizens, so that Ghanaians will continue to live in peace, harmony, and in happiness with our neighbors. It is for this birthday present and subsequent ones to follow in years to come that we, the National Association of Tescon Patrons (NATeP), do exist; sort of your think tank. We do exist to guide you. We do exist to offer you wise counsel. We do exist to strengthen your efforts. We do exist to offer you role model. We do exist to keep the Elephant in the City for as long as we can to help the NPP government manifest and consolidate its commitment of rolling out good social intervention policies that will truly benefit Ghanaians, such as the Free SHS, the NHIS, and the Nation Builders Corps, wherein Sanitation Ghana, Educate Ghana, Health Ghana, and Revenue Ghana do reside to provide jobs. Now our present:
THE CONFLICT BETWEEN FULANI CATTLE HERDSMEN AND SUBSISTENCE FARMERS
The latest in the conflict between Fulani cattle herdsmen and subsistence farmers occurred between the Akyem North DCE, Hon. Francis Oti Boateng, and his own District Police Commander, ASP Samuel Azugu. Reports have it that the DCE went into the residence of the Police Commander in the company of military personnel who threatened to manhandle him for ordering the escort of a 70-year old Fulani herdsman to the hospital for medical treatment following severe beatings by the soldiers assigned to the area.
This was after traditional authorities in the district have given the herdsmen a seven-day ultimatum to leave the community or they would be forced out following numerous complaints about their livestock destroying people’s farms. This had sparked some tensions between residents of the community and Fulani herdsmen, as over 50 cattle were fatally shot by military officers deployed by the District Security Council, when they were let loose on the soldiers by the herdsmen.
ECOWAS PROTOCOL OF FREE MOVEMENT OF PERSONS
The conflict between the Fulani herdsmen and community dwellers has been raging on for years in the country, but it has in recent times taken a more pronounced tone. There have been several cases of not only Fulani herdsmen cattle destroying farm produce, but also serious cases of assaults leading to deaths and rape of residents of those affected communities by the Fulani herdsmen and retaliations by the community members. The government, as signatory to the adoption of the 1979 ECOWAS protocol relating to sub-regional economic and political integration is severely restricted from taking any action that would keep Fulanis from the country, as some people who are not privy to the complexity of the matter have been clamoring for.
For example, the protocol stipulates among other things, the right of community citizens to enter, reside, and establish economic activities in the territory of member ECOWAS states. This, in addition to the government’s own commitment to industrialize Ghana and create a larger sub-regional market for Ghanaian products, as a way of expanding wealth opportunities for Ghanaians, compounds the options available to government in solving this serious and persistent national security problem.
NATeP is of the strong view that this conflict must be resolved equitably once and for all in light of the fact that there are numerous Ghanaian citizens also residing all over the globe at the so-called, “other people’s land,” especially in the sub-region. We believe that there is a clear and amicable solution to this impasse. It would be recalled that the government has captured in its 2018 budget a US$1 million earmarked for socio-economic development to be given to each of the 216 districts. This amount is ready for disbursement, according to a report in June 2017 by Citifmonline, attributed to the sector Minister Hon. Hawa Koomson.
We also believe that there would be no better way of spending a small fraction of this US$1 Million on building ranches to house the cattle in all the districts and prevent them from roaming from farm to farm. The plan will call for making it mandatory for the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District (MMD) Assemblies to acquire large tracts of land within their MMD areas for building one large ranch in each MMD where all cattle reared and sold within the MMD would be kept. Those ranches would be remote from town and serve all cattle rearing activities within the MMD. Each may contain small living quarters where herdsmen may reside with portable bore hole water facilities and electricity power provided.
They are going to be a one-time undertaking or investment that may generate its own industry around it where people may supply grass or fodder in return for compensation from the cattle owners. The MMD Assemblies may also charge the cattle owners fees for keeping their cattle inside the ranches to enhance internal funds generation. Such practice may offer the best hope of eliminating this conflict between Fulani cattle herdsmen and subsistence farmers. It may also reduce the incidence of report of rapes because now they may not be “nomads” but residents with fixed addresses and more readily identifiable with pictures and identification cards issued to them. It will also make our streets cleaner and free of cow dungs that make us objects of ridicule by foreigners whenever they visit. It would also prevent cattle from eating from the waste dumps that sometimes contain human excreta that pose public health hazards.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TESCON AND LONG LIVE!