The Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, a union of Fulani cattle breeders in the country, has disclosed the preparedness of the ethnic group to secede from Nigeria, while throwing its weight behind calls for the restructuring of the country.
National Secretary of the socio-cultural group, Saleh Alhassan, told Punch on Saturday that herders of Fulani extraction have been overtly disparaged and marginalised in many parts of the country, hence the expediency of disintegration.
Mr. Alhassan lamented that the controversial ethnic group had benefited little or nothing from the Nigerian federation, despite the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari (of Fulani origin).
“If everything busts (Nigeria disintegrates), it’s to the advantage of the herders because we are not even enjoying the federation,” Mr. Alhassan said. “We are even bidding for restructuring of the country; let every part go, so we can say this is where we are.”
He added: “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. Buhari has not done anything for us other than creating enemies for us.”
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The Miyetti Allah leader decried the herders’ lack of access to government facilities under the Buhari administration, despite producing the bulk of the country’s animal protein.
“Herders are being chased around. If Buhari loves the herders, he would have created the grazing reserves for them,” he reckoned.
Earlier moves by the federal government to create grazing reserves for herders nationwide was widely rejected by Southern state governments.
The herders’ position could open another prong in raging conversations about secession in Nigeria. Already, some Yoruba and Igbo elements have been agitating for self-actualisation of their successive regions, citing injustice from the centre.
Meanwhile, the Buhari administration reportedly entered into a truce settlement with the Miyetti Allah said to be worth N100 billion to end killings and kidnappings perpetrated by criminals suspected to be its members.
Reports say in 2019, Buhari administration officials led by interior minister at the time, Abdulrahman Dambazau, were widely reported to have held meetings with the leadership of the umbrella association of herdsmen in Kebbi State, wherein the said sum was allegedly offered to the group.
Roots TV coverage of the meeting was recirculated on Sunday, as tensions flared over deadly attacks linked to herdsmen and President Muhammdu Buhari’s failure to address the crisis.
This reportedly followed an initial N160 billion demanded by MACBAN. Miyetti Allah chief, Saleh Alhassan, who had admitted that N100 billion was indeed requested from the federal government, retorted that the money was intended for the construction of ranches to address farmer-herder crises.
Mr. Alhassan described as “mischievous” reports that the proposed funds were designated as amnesty payments to end kidnappings.
The Peoples Gazette reported that while reacting to the public outrage that greeted the alleged truce negotiations between the Buhari government and the herders, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu had strongly maintained that the issue of money was never raised at the controversial meetings.
“If they (Miyetti Allah) had raised it, this government would have dismissed them as yet another dubious group,” Mr. Shehu said in a statement mid-2019, adding that the Buhari administration had only moved to dialogue with the cattle breeders to find immediate solutions to farmers/herdsmen conflicts.
Fulani herdsmen have been repeatedly touted as key instigators of numerous violent atrocities being perpetrated by criminals, who occupy the forest reserves of many southern and north central states.
The cattle breeders association has, nonetheless, frowned at the discriminatory negative profiling of Fulani settlers, while urging citizens to dissociate criminals of Fulani extraction from the law-abiding ones.
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