Posted by Innocent Duru and Abdulgafar Alabelewe, Kaduna | 20 July 2019 | 449 times
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria, an umbrella association of the Fulani in the country, on Saturday disowned the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) over calls by NEF and CNG that Fulani herders in southern Nigeria should relocate to the north in their own interest.
The Professor Ango Abdullahi-led NEF and the CNG had launched a campaign to pressurise herders in the south to relocate to the north, citing alleged hostility and rejection of the Ruga scheme in southern states.
The two groups claimed that the herders and their cattle were no longer safe in the south.
But MACBAN and Gan Allah said on Friday that NEF and CNG were on their own in the campaign.
They said herders were not interested in leaving the south or heeding the call to relocate anywhere.
They also threatened to take legal action against NEF and CNG for making unsolicited statements that are capable of endangering the lives of their members across the country, especially in southern states.
However, Professor Abdullahi said yesterday that NEF required no group’s permission to speak for herders.
The National Secretary General of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria, Ibrahim Abdullahi, told The Nation on Friday that neither the CNG nor NEF consulted any Fulani group before making what he described as inflammatory statements.
“I saw the statement by the association which calls itself Coalition of Northern Groups, and I have also read that the Northern Elders Forum which also supported the call by the so called coalition.
“Our take is that we have not commissioned them to talk on our behalf,” Abdullahi said.
“The Fulani people in Nigeria have their associations and their leadership. If there is any need for us to make such a call, we would make it and not assign anybody to do that on our behalf. They did not contact us in any way before taking that decision.”
Abdullahi who explained that he was holding a critical meeting with herders’ host communities in the South West at the time NEF and CHGs issued their statements, said he was embarrassed by the comments.
His words: “When they made that call, I, in my capacity as the national secretary general of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria, was in the South West discussing with the stakeholders on how to ensure that our people stay together with their host communities in peace.
“When I saw that statement, in fact, I was in a meeting with some leadership of the OPC in Osun State and we were having fruitful discussions. When I saw the statement that Fulanis should leave the south, I was embarrassed.
“We don’t subscribe to that kind of call and those people don’t represent our interest and our people.
“We want to use this medium to warn them to stop discussing issues that affect our people without contacting us in any way.
“Their action will not help the cause of our people but rather endanger them.”
Continuing, Abdullahi said: “We want to call on them to desist from making such inflammatory statements.
“We know our people have problems and we know how to respond to our problems.
“We are not afraid of fighting anybody if the need arises. What we are trying to do is to ensure that our people live in peace with their neighbours.
“Northern Elders Forum or no elders forum, coalition or no coalition, they should not make any statement that concerns our people without contacting us, otherwise, we are going to take legal action against them.”
Abdullahi’s postion was supported by the Assistant Secretary of Miyetti Allah in Oyo State, Adams Abdulkadir.
In a separate interview with The Nation, Abdulkadir said: “People like us will not support the call that they made as long as we are living here in peace with our hosts.
“There is no cause for alarm. The group Northern Elders Forum, as they call themselves, and Miyetti Allay Cattle Rearers Association, are entirely different organisations.
“They cannot be representing or having the interest of another organsation. We are planning on taking legal action against them if they continue doing that.”
Also contacted, the National Secretary of Miyetti Allah, Engineer Saleh Bayari, said: “As an organisation, we totally reject the statement by NEF.
“It was unnecessary, unwarranted and a distraction from the challenges that our pastoralists are facing.
“You can’t just wake up and tell herders to leave where they are doing their legitimate business of cattle rearing. It is all part of the plot to destabilise the current government.
“They are desperate to destabilise the government and give the impression that there is instability in the country. All the same, they are working for the opposition PDP. We know them.
“Our members have not told us that they are facing any threat. These people are working with disgruntled politicians to create tension in the polity.
“Are they herders? They are not herders now. We are a political group and we would handle it politically.
”We are not happy because they are putting our people on the spot. Cattle rearing is not like achaba (commercial motorcycle) business that you can decide one day to pack it in Dangote trailer and start coming to the north.
“We hold Ango Abdulahi in high esteem. But if he continues to hobnob with the disgruntled coalition, we will not be happy with him.”
We don’t need your permission to speak, Ango replies Fulani leaders
Contacted on Friday, Professor Ango Abdullahi said NEF did not need to consult with any group for it to speak for herdsmen facing threats in the south.
He said the matter at hand has been politicised as the Fulani leaders were speaking from the comfort of their homes and not speaking for those facing threats in the field.
He said: “If the Fulani are feeling safe where they are, they should continue staying where they are. But if they are not, what we are saying is that they should come back to safety.
“You should know that there are very many Fulani groups. Those who are speaking are probably not speaking for all the Fulani, especially those in the areas where we are receiving complaints from.
“This matter has turned political, and we should find a way of resolving it politically.
“Meanwhile, as Northern Elders Forum, we don’t need to consult the Fulani leaders. I only need to hear complaints from those that are complaining.
“The so called leaders have been speaking from their comfort wherever they are. But those who are in the bush and facing threats are the ones that are complaining.”
Prof Abdullahi had said the demand that herders should relocate to the north was borne out of the realisation that the lives of Fulani herders were being put at risk on the strength of the actions and utterances of Southern Governors lately.
He said: “We are worried about their (herders) well-being. If it is true that their safety can no longer be guaranteed, we’ll rather have them back in areas where their safety is guaranteed.
“The bottom line is that their safety is far more important than their stay there. This is a country we all wish to keep together and not at the expense of other sections.”
The coalition’s spokesman, Abdul-Aziz Sulaiman, who presented their position to the elders, claimed that southern governors had arrogated to themselves the powers to decide which category of herdsmen will be allowed to live in the South and others they tagged criminal elements.
According to him, the situation was worsened after a section of the southern leadership introduced a fresh round of instigation by indiscriminately blaming the death of the daughter elder statesman Fasoranti on Fulani herdsmen and threatened reprisals on northerners, contrary to the account of her driver and the official explanation by the police that the culprits were yet to be identified.
The following day, Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari asked Nigerians to ignore the NEF/CNGs campaign.
He declared: “All citizens of Nigeria are free to move and live within any part of the country they please, whether or not they are originally from there.
“In line with our country’s constitution, the government of Nigeria and the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will protect citizens of Nigeria wherever they find themselves. “No one has the right to ask anyone or group to depart from any part of the country, whether north, south, east or west.” (The Nation)
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