The National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Mr Alhassan Saleh, tells JESUSEGUN ALAGBE why he thinks Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje is wrong for asking the federal government to make a law banning herders from moving their cattle from the North to the South to end the herders-farmers crisis
Recently, the Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje said there should be a law banning herders from moving their cattle from the North to the South to end the herders-farmers crisis. Do you agree with him?
National Secretary, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Mr Saleh Alhassan
Well, I don’t agree because we have herders who are indigenous to Southern Nigeria. That is not a solution; it is a political gimmick, and we are seeing through the gimmick.
What kind of gimmick? Can you explain?
He [Ganduje] is now courting political networks across the South, positioning himself to become the Vice-President, so he is now playing to the gallery and trying to speak what he thinks the public would welcome. What he proposed is not the solution. Fundamentally, you cannot begin to relocate people; they are citizens of this country. You cannot address the issues of climate change and hate speech by relocating people. There are herders who have spent years in Southern Nigeria; there are herders straddled between the Southern part of the country and the Benin Republic. Where do you intend to relocate them to? All this noise that he [Ganduje] is making, what has he created for the herders? What infrastructures have they provided? These are not even the issues. The main issue is that nobody has the fundamental right to evict citizens from places where they have their livelihoods. That is a very dangerous signal and it is going to have serious repercussions because when you displace herders who are innocent, you are creating a bandwagon effect; there will be consequences.
They should go after the criminals, and it’s not the responsibility of the herders to identify the criminals because they share the same geography. It’s the responsibility of the state and security agencies. Ganduje thinks because he is an APC [All Progressives Congress] stakeholder, all these things happening are a nuisance. It’s a challenge that fundamentally bothers on mismanagement of our resources. We are watching the events, but definitely, something will give way. It’s not a healthy development because by the time you start relocating ethnic nationalities to where you think they should be, we are fundamentally destroying the fabrics of this country.
The solution is very simple: Create spaces for these herders, who are Nigerians, and create laws to govern the spaces. In Oyo State, we only have 20 hectares available for cattle herding. Expand the capacity of the place. You can’t begin to evict people based on ethnicity; they are just giving criminals the opportunity to destabilise this country. How can you go and be evicting herders who are settled, burning their houses and killing their cattle and you think you are solving a problem.
What some people want is to create reprisals so that this country can go into crisis. But the pastoralists are not like that; they don’t visit injustice on people who do justice to them. However, anybody, whether they are in Daura [Katsina State], that does injustice to a herder will definitely get a reprisal. It can take time, but the reprisal will come. It’s a cultural thing. That is why we are calling on people to be very careful. Herders have nothing, they don’t benefit anything from the government. They are victims. That is why when we see ethnic warlords ganging up, we just laugh because they cannot manage what they are inviting. Let them go after the criminals. In fact, herders are the first victims of criminals in this country. They lose their lives and animals, and they are kidnapped. It does not make sense that because you share an ethnicity with a criminal, then you are also a criminal. Where are justice and education in the whole situation emerging? What is happening is someone’s script, and they want chaos. And they will get chaos but not from the herders
You said what’s going on is a script. But don’t you think that some citizens are tired of the alleged atrocities of criminal herdsmen?
Are the atrocities you’re talking about only in one place? Go after the criminals. Don’t we have Boko Haram? Are we attacking the Kanuri people because of that? Armed robbery is most common in Southern Nigeria; has anybody stigmatised the Southerners? Talking of prostitution and child trafficking, are they not predominant among a particular group? Has anybody stigmatised them? When we talk about cybercrime, is it not predominant among Southerners? Has anybody stigmatised the ethnic group? All the big kidnappers like the Evans of this world, has it led to the profiling of his ethnic group? So what is playing out is a script. Is it difficult for a state government to identify and arrest the criminals? But they are now organising a mob; do they think they will get results? Most of the herders they are killing are innocent, and it is not their responsibility to identify the criminals. It is the responsibility of the government.
Those driving herdsmen away in the South say their target are the criminals. So should you be bothered?
How will they identify the criminals? Are they security agencies? How do they know criminals? Is it not when you see them with weapons and committing crimes? You can’t just go into herders’ settlements and be driving them away. Is it because they don’t want to retaliate? They have the double capacity to retaliate the atrocities meted out to them.
Let’s assume there are wrong steps being taken, do you plan to take it up with the government by making reports?
If a state governor, who is the chief security officer of the state, can push a mob into action through his utterances, where will you run to again? Yes, there are criminals in the forest, some of whom can be Fulani, but how does it affect the whole tribe? Look at the people importing sophisticated weapons into the country, are they attaching ethnicity to them? Everything happening is a script, and what they want is for the Northerners to start attacking the Southerners living in the North, but we don’t operate like that. It’s not our way. We don’t kill people to loot their property.
What do you say about the Southerners who have reportedly been victims of rape, murder, and others in the hands of the criminal herdsmen?
I am not arguing that. What I am saying is that the security agencies should go after anyone carrying weapons and attacking others. The Fulani are not a minority. They are an African tribe and what is happening is reverberating across the continent. Anybody thinking they can make life difficult for the Fulani is making a mistake. We are in 20 African countries and Nigeria is our headquarters, whether people like it or not.
Is that why we often see the Presidency speaking for the Fulani herdsmen?
Which Presidency is speaking on our behalf? Is it the Presidency that has been blackmailed? They are not doing anything for the herders. All the COVID-19 palliatives, have they given the herders?
There is a suggestion that herders should pay for land in their host communities to graze their cattle so as to stop destroying farmlands. Isn’t this a feasible solution?
According to the Land Use Act, the land is vested in the hands of the state. A ranch is not a plot of land to build a house. What some people are proposing is not as simple as that. People are saying, is herding not a private business? Has the government not developed ports and roads where other people do their private businesses? The government builds dams for private agricultural business. Even if I had money, will the state government sell the land to me? This is why we are saying this country needs to be restructured so that we can stop pretending that things are working when they’re not..

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