From Paul Orude Bauchi
former governor of Bauchi State, Malam Isa Yuguda, has insisted that Fulani herders deserve to defend themselves, alleging that Nigeria has been unfair to them.
He spoke shortly after revalidating his membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) while reacting to recent comments by Governor Mohammed on reasons Herdsmen carry Ak-47 rifles about.
Yuguda who ruled Bauchi State between 2007 and 2015, said Fulani herders had the constitutional right to defend themselves, saying that those criticising Governor Mohammed were only trying to be sentimental about the welfare of the herders.
He submitted that the herders, who had been plying their cattle rearing trade for over 200 years cannot wake up one day and begin to carry AK-47 rifles but did that because of neglect by the state.
He lamented that despite their contributions to the economy of the country, all they get in return is neglect and unfair treatment from the state.
“This is a very sensitive national issue and given that I am a Fulani man, when I make comments, people will think I am siding the Fulani. No. I think the cattle rearers who have been herding for the past 200 years all over the country cannot just wake up in the morning and all of a sudden become AK-47 killers and most importantly, the neglect of the Fulanis, especially the cattle rearers who are presently giving Nigerians a minimum of one million cattle to slaughter and take as beef, their treatment by the Nigerian states have been most unfair.
“At the time when Lord Lugard conquered Northern Nigeria and setup government in Northern Nigeria they were the only source of revenue. They provided the revenue that jumpstarted development in the North including Benue State where they have being chased out now.
“They’re pastoralists. They’re people who provide beef for the country. You can see them as an agricultural venture. There have been billions of investment in agriculture in form of subsidies in fertilizer but have you ever heard the Federal Government subsidising pastoralism?
“What I am trying to say in essence is that the Nigerian State has not been fair to this people.
Yuguda argued that those in authority ought to have resettled the herders as the population was expanding, adding that Southerners were only criminalising the Fulani people.
“When the white man came, he respected them because they were his source of revenue. Not only that, he provided cattle routes from Maiduguri to Otupko, from Sokoto to Lokoja and Ilorin and these infrastructures were provided by the white people. Today where are the grazing reserves? Where are the cattle routes?
“But you cannot blame Nigerians because we are giving birth. In the 60s, we were still 60 million in population, but today we are about 130 million Nigerians in the Northern part of the country. So everywhere have been dominated,” the former governor said.
He accused the media of ethnic profiling.
“Let us stopped being sentimental for goodness sake, otherwise this country will crumble. It’s crumbling in your hands and I’m afraid that you, as the press, are creating this problem.”