National President, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Socio-cultural Association, Bello Abdullahi Bodejo (Lamido Fulbe) is extremely worried over the farmers/herdsmen crises and wants an immediate end to the situation. He spoke to WILLY EYA on various issues and recommended the declaration of a state of emergency in Benue and Taraba states.
Recently, the Benue State governor raised the alarm that the Fulani have unleashed about one million cows to Benue State. Is there truth in his allegation?
It is a lie. From Nasarawa, they have arrested about 3000 Fulani cows and kept it in Benue. Governor Ortom is only spreading propaganda just to suffer the Fulani people. All the cows outside Benue, they are arresting them. If you understand Hausa, I can take you to them and you will understand what the Fulani are suffering. Even in Taraba and outside Benue, they arrest the Fulani and their cows. We do not know what to do again.
Is it the Police that are arresting the Fulani and their cows or who?
Yes, they are collaborating with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps. They are helping the Tiv to arrest the cows.
Don’t you think that from all indications, ranching is the only way forward in the farmers/herders crises?
But it should not be the Governor Ortom’s kind of ranching. His own is ‘politics ranching.’ We need ranching but not the type that Ortom has proposed. The truth is that Governor Ortom wants to destroy the Fulani economy in the country.
But the anti-open grazing law has also been established in Taraba, what is the difference with that in Benue?
The anti-open grazing law in Taraba is not like that in Benue. In Taraba, even before the current state governor was born, they have been doing ranching in the state. The Fulani have been doing ranching there but why did the state government say they want to do it again. What kind of ranching do they want the Fulani to do again in Taraba State. I was born in Gembu and we do not move; we stay there in one place and herd the cows. The type of ranching they are doing now is not good. All these things are just politics. The Fulani are in trouble.
What about the most recent killings in Kogi State; the argument is that the crisis in Kogi is because the governor gave out the state land for the controversial cattle colony. Are you saying that the Fulani have no hand in the situation in Kogi?
In Kogi, they killed members of the local vigilance security outfit. The vigilance members are killing themselves and they are accusing the Fulani whereas the Fulani are not involved in the crisis.
You said that Governor Ortom wants to destroy the Fulani economy; why do you think so and what would he gain by doing that?
The problem is that Ortom knows that he is owing his people salaries and he cannot pay. When President Muhammadu Buhari went to Benue, did you see anything that he commissioned in the state. Did you see even one kilometer of road constructed by Governor Ortom. So, he has not done anything and has not paid the workers’ salaries, and the only way he can deceive the people is to continue to jump up and down calling the names of the Fulani. The Tiv people are very educated and one day, their eyes would open and they would know that Ortom is deceiving them. Somebody who has not paid people salaries would now be talking about anti-open grazing law. I do not know what we can do; I am even tired of all these things. Maybe I will just keep quiet and leave everything to God. The sufferings of the Fulani are becoming too much. Everyday, we are receiving reports. We receive all kinds of reports of things happening to the Fulani. It is not good and all these are happening because they do not have access to the media.
Do you think that all these are happening because President Buhari, a Fulani man is in power?
Maybe Governor Ortom is planning to dump the All Progressives Congress(APC) to join the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). But he does not want to go silently until he destroys the Fulani. People are saying all kinds of things. Imagine even what Wole Soyinka has been saying. Remember he said before that if Donald Trump won the last American presidential election that he would tear his Green card and not go to the United States again. But when Trump won the election, he did not fulfill his promise and still went to America. He has been saying all kinds of things against the Fulani. All these crises that people are causing are just because President Buhari who is in power now is Fulani. Honestly, I do not know what to do again; I am really tired of all these things.
With the situation in Nigeria today, what do you think would happen if President Buhari wins a second term?
The way Nigeria is going now especially the issue of Fulani, if President Buhari does not declare a state of emergency in those two states of Benue and Taraba, if Nigeria does not collapse, the Fulani economy would collapse. How can the Fulani lose up to 15000 to 20000 cows and the Fulani economy would not collapse. It is as bad as that and nobody is talking about that. The only thing we are begging President Buhari is to declare a state of emergency in those two states. That is the only thing that would save us. Now, there is no Fulani in Benue State but the problem now is that the Benue people even go outside to go and hunt for Fulani and kill their cows. But on the issue of Nigerian election, I cannot do analysis on it. But I know that if they do not declare a state of emergency in those two states, there would be real problems. This is because the Fulani are suffering too much.
What you are saying would surprise many people because under Buhari, the impression is that the Fulani is even being pampered by the Federal Government?
Now, if they do anything to favour the Fulani, people would start shouting that it is only the Fulani that President Buhari is favouring. That is why Buhari is being very careful to accommodate everybody and to make sure that everyone is doing well in the country. But so many people do not know this.
The argument is that Buhari’s government is so sectional and a clear point of reference is the exclusion of the South East in the security architecture of the country.
During former President Jonathan’s time, was it not the same thing? If for instance President Buhari is giving the Fulani everything, we, the Miyetti Allah are not concerned with the analysis or who has the power or not. The only thing we know is that this is one Nigeria. For us, I am not bothered about tribe. Even if it is only Igbo people that are in government, if they want to help Nigeria, they can do it. Is it because Buhari put many Fulani people in government that they are killing us today in Nigeria? It is not enough reason to be killing the Fulani. People who are reasoning that way are among the very bad people that do not want peace in the country. That is why such people are saying that Buhari has put his people and that the people in government are all Northerners.
You said you are tired of the farmers/herdsmen crises, so what is the way forward for the Miyetti Allah with regards to the problem?
We are already in court to seek justice. The Fulani people are very law abiding. We are praying that one day, we would get justice. I do not know Ortom’s interest in the anti-open grazing law. They would go as far as Taraba, arrest cows of the Fulani and take them to Benue. We do not understand that kind of law. They would go to Nasarrawa and arrest a Fulani man. Wherever they see them, they would arrest them. Faulani are facing serious problems now.
But many have that impression that the Fulani are responsible for all the killings involving herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria.
It is a lie. It is just like some people saying that Kogi State gave the Fulani land for cattle Colony and that is why there are killings there. How can you start killing people who gave you land? I pray that one day journalists and newspapers would start telling the truth about what is happening in the country. That is my prayer. People would just go and carry one side of the story and be painting the Fulani black. But now, we can start going to court for all these hate speeches. We are prepared now and today we can have a team of lawyers. If you say that a Fulani man is a criminal, you have to prove it. If you get a Fulani man who is a criminal, prove it and do not say it is all Fulani that are criminals. All the time, what you hear is Fulani herders, Fulani this and that. It is not only Fulani that are herding cattle. Most of these big men in the country including Ortom have cows. The hatred for the Fulani started from 2015 till today.