Just In: Miyetti Allah splits, as tension in the Southwest escalates

Bodejo had said Fulani are going nowhere, but it seems others have a different view of the whole saga.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

/ by National Pivot

There's a bit of confusion within the Fulani interest group, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, over restructuring of Nigeria as tension between herders and States in the country continues to rise. 

The Southwest has said it has had enough, and want Fulani out of its forests over allegations or crimes ranging from killings, rape, kidnappings, destruction of farmlands and more. 

The decision of the Ondo state government under the leadership of Rotimi Akeredolu, to give a 7 day ultimatum for herdsmen to leave its forest, has faced backlash and condemnation by the Presidency, Miyetti Allah, and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), who said such move is dangerous and could lead to another civil war.

The Presidency had said it is wrong for Ondo State government to "unilaterally oust thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals." 

It said instead of generalizing, all States in the country particularly in the South, should draw clear lines between criminals and the law-abiding citizens.

In it's own part, the Arewa Consultative Forum, said that violence against Fulani communities and herders in Oyo State, is simply a criminal act begging for another Civil War in the country.

While reactions continue to pour from across the country as the squabble escalates, Miyetti Allah seen to have made the most powerful statement saying its people living in the Southwest are going nowhere, and that "nobody, no power can send the herdsmen out of Ondo State."

"No any herdsman will obey the governor; the herdsmen will not step an inch out of Ondo forests; they are going nowhere. We won’t obey the governor; it is only the constitution of Nigeria that we obey. We have been in that area before he was born, how can he just grow up and ask us to leave; no Fulani will leave that place. What are his reasons for the quit notice?

He alleged that it is the herdsmen that are kidnapping and robbing people and they operate from the forests," Bello Abdullahi Bodejo, the National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, said during an interview with Daily Sun.

"All the lands in this country belong to the Fulani, but we don’t have any business to do with land if it doesn’t have areas for grazing; if the land doesn’t have cow food, we won’t have any business with it. We don’t sell land, we don’t farm. What we consider is the areas that have cow food. If the place is good for grazing, we don’t need anybody’s permission to go there," he added. 

However, while Miyetti Allah is holding a firm stand on the matter, the National Secretary of the group, Saleh Alhassan, is saying something else completely. 

Speaking in an interview with The PUNCH on Saturday, Alhassan said if restructuring the country such that everyone goes his own way, would bode well for the country and each region, then it would be a welcome development.

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.

He 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.”

Speaking further, he urged the Buhari administration to create an alternative for the herders as a way to resolve the current dilemma. 

“Government needs to be careful, and the real issue at stake is basically that of land resource management. These herders don’t have land and they do their business on land resource and we have a lot of land in this country. What we are saying is that the government should create an alternative for them.

“We need to modernise cattle grazing and the government needs to have an input because land belongs to the government. You can’t do ranching without land. Modernising it is a key solution to this and the government has a key role to play.

“We must accommodate the herders in Nigeria, whichever arrangement, because that is the sustainable way to peace. Create a sustainable land use policy where you accommodate people that have a need for the land. Create grazing land for these people and create laws that would govern them. If we don’t solve this problem, we will be complicating it.”

Alhassan however warned that further attacks on the herdsmen might be pushing them into rebellion. “Our fear is for these people not to be radicalised, and people who accuse herders of committing crimes should get the security agents to arrest and prosecute them,” he added.

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