The Federal Government summoned leaders of Fulani and land owners of Berom ethnic group in Plateau State to resolve the conflicts arising from the construction of a primary school in Rankum, an acclaimed Berom native community allegedly acquired forcefully and renamed “Mahanga” by Fulani herdsmen.
The school which was named “Ardo Mamuda Primary School, Mahanga”, a 12 classroom block facility was in May 2020 erected by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Sustainable Development Goals in the hamlet located in Jol Ward of Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau state.
In a petition to the OSSAP-SDGs office, the Jol Community Development Association said building the school and giving it the name of its new occupants “legitimizes land-grabing”.
But in a counter-petition, the Fulani herdsmen residing in the hamlet said they had children that needed education.
“No Federal or State classroom block exists in Rafin Acha Nomadic Primary School and even our request for Government Teachers has not been replied. In Nomadic Primary School Loya, only one teacher is paid by the government. We hear there are paid teachers posted to the school but they don’t ever come. In Nyelgagare, there is no government paid teacher except the Islamic Religious Knowledge teacher.”
Member Representing Riyom/Barkin Ladi Federal Constituency in the Nigerian House of Representatives, Simon Mwadkon however told the meeting that no project was exclusively designed to benefit any particular group.
“As representatives of the people, since the election in 2019, we have only attracted Federal interventions in three federal wards which have a fair representation of the Fulani tribe.”
Represented by his Chief of Staff, John Chun, Hon. Mwadkwon pledged to investigate all concerns of his constituents, the Fulani included, and lead a resolution process.
Similarly, General Manager, Plateau State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (PRUWASSA), Mr. Peter Kassam said his office has not drilled up to 700 boreholes in the whole of Plateau, and has not sidelined any community on the basis of tribe, religion or political affiliation.
“Our work is not political but partner-driven. Drillng only in Birom community is not true. Community selections was based on criteria e.g. ODF claim; must have registered wth LGA social department and have community acctounts; must have been triggered and WASHCOM formed.
“Some communities could not be captured because of security challenges. Some, we awarded but security challenges made it not to be implemented. For some, it is accessibility – topography problem. So there was no delibrate effort to sideline any community in terms of WASH interventions please,” said Kassam in SMS chat.
A representative of Jol Community Development Association, Barr. Solomon Dalyop at the meeting declined to comment on the issue of government neglect raised by the herder community, insisting that the purpose of the meeting was to resolve the SDGs’ construction of a Primary school in Rankum, the native community “annexed” and renamed Mahanga, and branding it after a Fulani leader, “Ardo Mamuda Primary School, Mahanga”.