Saleh Alhassan, National Secretary of Miyetti Allah (left) and President Muhammadu Buhari
The Miyetti Allah herdsmen group has called on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government of Nigeria to heed the call for the restructuring of the country to allow the Fulani go their way.
Since the President who himself is Fulani came to power on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC) party, Nigeria’s unity has come under severe attacks following the wanton killing and destruction of lives and farmlands across the nation by the dreaded Fulani herdsmen whom the Federal Government of Nigeria has refused to tag terrorist group.
The National Secretary of the group, Saleh Alhassan, said in a media interview that herdsmen were being marginalised in the country and that it was best if they were on their own where they would be protected. There have been calls for the restructuring of the country, with many southern groups insisting that it was the only way the country could move forward, while northern groups have largely been divided on the issue.
Resource control, fairness and the allegations of killings, invasion of farmlands and people’s properties, kidnapping and other criminal activities against some herdsmen had fueled the calls for restructuring of the country. The herders/farmers clashes had also increased the distrust among the ethnic groups, with some individuals from the different zones issuing quit notice to some others.
Alhassan said, “We don’t support crime. So, I’m not saying there are no Fulani that are criminals, there are, like other tribes, but don’t destroy their profession. It’s not good for the country. If everything busts, it’s to the advantage of the herders because we are not even enjoying the federation.
“We are even bidding for restructuring of the country; let every part go, so we can say this is where we are. As it is now, there is no form of marginalisation we are not seeing in this country. Everywhere we are being marginalised. You think we will accept Nigeria where we don’t have access to land to feed our animals and you think there will be peace?”
When asked if he thinks restructuring would solve the herders/farmers crisis, he said, “Quite fundamentally. If we leave today now and if there is no oil revenue, won’t they pay attention to animal rearing? If we restructure the country and the South-West region says they won’t accept cattle unless they are brought to the market or supermarket, it’s okay by us.
“The mistake people make is that they think when they put pressure on herders they are getting at President (Muhammadu) Buhari. Buhari has no relationship with the herders. That is the truth. When people say he is our grandpatron, was Jonathan from the South-South not our grandpatron? “If the President is a Fulani, it doesn’t in any way affect the life of a herder. In fact, they are worse off under Buhari. What are they benefitting? They don’t access any government facility or social amenity, yet they are responsible for the bulk of animal protein we produce in this country. I think it’s deliberate for people to think otherwise.
“Buhari has not done anything for us other than creating enemies for us. Herders are being chased around. Let us look at the larger picture and not allow enemies penetrate us. If Buhari loves the herders, he would have created the grazing reserves for them.”