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Herdsmen Need Ministry Of Fulani Herders Affairs Just Like Niger Delta Militants, Says Miyetti Allah Leader, Bello Bodejo

  • We’re not bandits; we’re victims of banditry, terrorism

The National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bodejo has called on the Federal Government to replicate for them what it did for the people of the Niger Delta by creating the Ministry of Fulani Herders Affairs.

He said the creation of such a Ministry would be a major panacea to ending the perennial clashes between pastoralists and farmers in the Middle Belt and other parts of the country.

In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the leader of the Fulani socio-cultural group, who threatened that his group would drag anyone or group that accuses the herdsmen unjustly to court, also explained that the recent Interactive Policy Dialogue and Cultural Day Festival recently hosted by his group in Abuja was meant to bring the Fulani together and seek a permanent solution to the seemingly intractable conflict between herdsmen and farmers in many parts of the country.

People say you are doing well for the Fulani. What informed this Interactive Policy Dialogue and Cultural Day Festival you put up last week in Abuja?Are you a Man 40 yrs and above? Do not miss the Vital Information, it goes off in 2 days!

We Fulani believe that Nigerian is one. Since I started leading the Fulani under the umbrella of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, my intention has been to unite all the Fulani, so that they can speak with one voice, for the Fulani to know themselves, and the downtrodden to know their prominent people. It is also for others to value the Fulani. All the violence taking place here and there was not supposed to happen – the herdsmen, farmers’ clashes, kidnappings. It was an opportunity to tell my Fulani brothers that if they have a hand in these kidnappings and violence, that they should stop it and embrace peace.

Whenever any kidnapping or and violence takes place, people would be calling on the Fulani as being responsible. This is propaganda to give the Fulani people a bad name. That is why we brought many people; some are not even Fulani, they delivered papers. We have collated the papers and came out with a communiqué which we are going to give the federal and state governments. If they follow our advice, all these problems would die down. Over 10, 000 Fulani gathered in one place to discuss their future. This is the first time of such gathering by our people.

We invited our brothers: professors, doctors, those from different professional backgrounds, and those that are into pastoral business, educationists, people who know about grazing reserves, religious leaders, security agencies, emirs and everyone said his own part. There were also delegations from outside the country. About 16 countries participated in the programme. It could have been more except that some have flight challenges. Niger, Chad, Cameroun, Togo, Benin Republic and others came, and we discussed the problems of the Fulani internationally and what problems they face in their various countries.

We wanted to compare the challenges of Fulani from country to country. If they don’t have problems in their various countries, we wanted to know the reasons, and if there were problems, then we would team up to solve them. You can see Fulani crossing borders from Chad to Nigeria, Togo to Benin, etc. We are trying to solve their problems. After the dialogue at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, we went and address the masses, over 10,000 of them, at the Miyetti Allah Headquarters, Maliya Cattle Market, on Abuja-Keffi Expressway, Abuja. We spent two days with them, advising them.

I don’t want any Fulani man to have any problem with anybody in this country and also, I don’t want anyone to have problem with any Fulani in this country. I watched one video by some Biafra boys or other people, saying that Fulani from African countries gathered in Nigeria to plan jihad. That is not true. Fulani already have their religion, which is jihad; what other jihad are they talking about? Miyetti Kautal Hore does its programme openly. This programme we had, we brought in some people who were not Fulani; the Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyeama delivered a paper and asked us to give him about 100 Fulani boys to train. We don’t have any hidden agenda.

You said if the government implements the suggestions arrived at during the meeting that there would be no problem. What were some of the suggestions?

Firstly, there are so many Fulani in this country and they are making great contributions to the growth and the development of this country. With our cows, we are very high contributors to national revenue from individual Fulani cattle owners and these people have so many cows and that is why we are asking that they be given a place to settle; create grazing reserves for them in order for them to stay in one place.

If you want them to keep moving from one place to the other, that would be creating endless problems. We want the Fulani children to go to school and be educated. So, schools and hospitals should be built at such reserves. We want the Federal Government to create Ministry of Fulani Herdsmen Affairs as you have the Ministry of Niger Delta to handle herdsmen affairs. There should be a solution for all these clashes.

Are you sure that if the Federal Government implements your resolutions, these herders, farmers clashes will come to an end?

Definitely, the implementations of these resolutions will go a long way to stop these crises.

Why is it that some people always accuse the Fulani as responsible where most kidnappings and killings take place?

There is so much propaganda and gang up against the Fulani to demean and diminish the Fulani. This is not fair. That was one of the things that the dialogue was out to address, and we want people to stop that.

People say that the Fulani herdsmen are the bandits. What is your reaction?

Every tribe in this country has good and bad people. You can’t call all the herdsmen bandits and you can’t say all herdsmen are terrorists. If a member of your tribe was involved in crime, does it mean every member of your tribe is a criminal? You cannot demonise every member of a tribe by profiling them as criminals just because of the criminal activity of one member of the tribe.

Herdsmen are not the bandits; they are the highest victims of banditry and terrorism. The bandits are killing them in large numbers. So, how can anybody say herdsmen are bandits? It is not good. This profiling is not fair.   

People accused herdsmen of being responsible for the attack last Sunday on a Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, where scores of worshippers were killed and other injured. What is your reaction against this weighty accusation?

What relationship has a Fulani man with the church? All of them are Muslims. I don’t think any Fulani would go and attack a church. For what?  People making such accusation just wanted to tarnish our image. People have been calling me and I’m tired of answering the question. How can any Fulani attack a church? How many attacks have happened and they would accuse the Fulani and in the end it would be seen that Fulani were not involved? I don’t think the Fulani would have carried out the attack. It is for the Commissioner of Policed to unravel. You are not the commissioner of police or a security agent, but you stay in your house and concluded that Fulani herdsmen carried out the attack. What evidence do you have for you to come up with such heavy allegations?

This talk is nonsense. Those talking like that are the enemies of Nigeria and Nigerians; they are out to cause trouble. It is just like giving a dog a bad name in order to kill it. But we can never allow it to continue. We can no more allow people to continue to accuse the Fulani unnecessarily. We shall begin to sue anybody or group who drags the name of Fulani in the mud or accuses us of what we didn’t do or what he doesn’t have the evidence of. So, mind what you say about the Fulani. If you must accuse us of any crime or criminal activities whether in the social media or the traditional media, make sure you have your evidence, which you will prove in the court. This propaganda is enough.

Considering your numerical strength, are you going to bring it to bear to determine who wins the presidential election next year?

We have large numbers. We are yet to decide on who to support. When the time comes, we shall take the decision. This country has to make progress; so we need progressive-minded people. We will tell our members the person to vote for, and by then we must have studied the candidates and their programmes. The programmes must be the ones that favour us. We have already united towards this and are waiting for the candidate. Such a candidate must not come in the name of religion or tribe; he must be ready to see everybody as one; and carry everybody together.

First published in Saturday Sun

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