From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
National President, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Bello Bodejo, has hinted that years of deprivation, injustice and neglect forced some aggrieved fulani pastoralists to arm struggle with the government actors and local communities.
Alhaji Bodejo alleged that fulani pastoralists have been treated badly over the years in Nigeria, a country of their own, and in spite of several complaints and calls for change, no respite has come, hence the decision of the aggrieved ones to retire to the bush from where they periodically express their anger through attacks.
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Alhaji Bodejo who spoke at the maiden interactive policy dialogue and cultural festival with the theme “the future of Fulani Pastoralists in Nigeria” said that despite the propaganda against the fulani pastoralists, they are the worst hit by the high level of insecurity in Nigeria.
He said: “Unarguably, the affairs of the Fulani Pastoralists in Nigeria have been relegated to the background with no one talking about issues of concerns that have been raised by the people. No one can doubt our contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria, and yet, fulani pastoralists have been neglected, relegated and pushed to the wall, hence they are reacting their own way.
“Obviously, the aggrieved Fulani in the bush allegedly making trouble are ones that might have ran out of patients. If not that I was lucky, I would have been armed with AK-47 riffle or what is more than that. Our interest are not considered in the plans of the government.
“For an average herdsman in Nigeria and beyond, his cattle is all he has, in addition to his family. But lately, he has been forcefully dispossessed of his wealth with no justice coming from neither the government nor the communities.
“Many of them have lost their sources of livelihood, family and other inheritances and nothing is being done about it by the government. Rather there are perceived conspiracy between courts, communities, security agencies to profile the herdsmen in order to get justification for their planned terror against them, but it won’t continue anymore.
“We need to reach out to these aggrieved Fulani pastoralists especially through their trusted and reliable channels, traditional rulers and clerics, to make peace. Many of them are openly venting their anger against the government and the society due to the level of injustice and deprivation they have suffered.
“We have tried to make peace but it seems the government is not interested in doing that because many suggestions we have made have not been implemented. These aggrieved herders have leaders, traditional and religious, that they listen to, so, those people should be invited to intervene in the peace building process.”
Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, in his remarks, suggested a dialogue that will be championed by sincere people as the only way to end the crisis.
He said: “These people apparently took to arms because of the neglect and disregard to issues of their welfare and development. Besides, they saw that the world was moving faster than they could catch, and nothing was being done to change their fortunes.
He called for an end to the ethnic profiling of the Fulani pastoralists by the police, communities and even ethnic militias, which has led to unprecedented attacks on their lives and sources of livelihood.
He suggested that the template that was
used to resolve the Niger Delta crisis years ago should be adopted, beginning with the creation of Federal Ministry of Nomadic Affairs to carter for the welfare of the people.
“These set of people in society are left with no care, education, love, sense of belonging, basic amenities and other things. How do you expect to live in peace.”
He challenged the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore to ensure that resolutions reached at the conference are submitted to the presidency, security agencies and other relevant stakeholders.
Former Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Yusuf Usman, in his remarks, described banditry as a social problem but unfortunately, Nigerian government was increasingly militarizing the solution. “There is role for the military but there won’t be military solution to the issues of banditry,” he said.
Prof. Usman confirmed that himself, alongside Sheikh Gumi and other respected clerics visited the bandits in the bushes where they freely interacted with them to know their challenges.
He said: “The believe that these people are not Nigerians is untrue. We visited virtually all the camps in zamfara, Niger and other areas. We met and interacted with the leaders of the different camps. We equally saw some child soldiers, 13 to 14 years old children smoking marijuana and sniffing other hard substances in the camps. But when we started reciting Holy Qu’ran at the camps, they started showing some signs of repentance.
“Obviously, the bandits have lots of respect for the clerics and traditional rulers, hence we should take advantage of that to solve the issue of security in the troubled states. Undoubtedly, clerics and traditional rulers are the people to get to the hearts of these people.”
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