Southern leaders have rebuked the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) for supporting the call for the return of Fulani herdsmen from the southern parts of Nigeria back to the north.
Naija Buzz News had reported how the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) in support of the NEF had called on all Fulani herders to leave the south and return to their respective states in the north.
In their response, the southern leaders including Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, and the Ijaw Youth Council, have described the development as irresponsible, arrogant and unpatriotic.
In our report yesterday, we noted that the CNG in support of the Chairman of the NEF, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, who was a former Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, called on all Fulani’s to return home where their safety is guaranteed.
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders, Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, and Dr. Pogu Bitrus, who expressed shock over Prof. Abdullahi’s statement in their response warned Prof. Abdullahi not to cause another civil war with his reckless and unguarded statements.
Afenifere in its response whoever noted that Abdullahi’s statement and position clearly shows that certain persons value cows more than humans. The apex Yoruba group further said that instead of offering condolences over the bloodshed in the south caused by their kinsmen, the northern group was making insensitive statements. Adding that the position of the NEF shows clearly that it was in support of the ultimatum issued against southern by the Coalition of the Northern Groups.
We reported how the group issued an ultimatum for southerners to leave the north because leaders in the south vehemently rejected the establishment of Ruga settlement in the southern parts of Nigeria for Fulani herders.
“For us in Afenifere, that statement smacks of insensitivity of the highest order and arrogance of the greatest proportion. They are not talking about the shedding of human blood, we are yet to hear messages of condolences or regrets from these people only for them to be blackmailing the rest of the country,” Yinka Odumakin, the spokesman of the apex Yoruba group said in his statement sent to Naija Buzz News.
“That shows clearly that there are some people who value cows more than human beings. If he asked the herders to take their cows back to the North, what about the sleeper cells? What about the militia who are armed, who are killing people in southern communities?”
South-East governors respond
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, the Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, in his response to the statement by the northern group, said that no herdsman would be forced to leave the zone.
He however noted that the call for them to leave came at the right time, because the gruesome activities of the herders in the zone had indicted them heavily.
Read the governor’s statement issued through his Chief Press Secretary, Emma Ozor, below;
“The call by the elders forum to the cattle breeders to return home is a welcome development. It could be that the elders had carefully considered and weighed the activities of the herders and their implications and decided to call them back home in order to talk to them.
“The herders are not in any way being forced to leave any part of the country and are not in any form of compulsion to do so. They are Nigerians, too, and all of us own Nigeria. But, they themselves know that their alleged illegal activities, killings and others pit them against the law and they should heed to that call by the most respected elders from the North. So, if they want to go and heed the call, it is a show of civility and maturity on their part.
“There is already heightened insecurity in the country and Nigerians live in fear currently. We believe that the elders have a genuine agenda for calling their younger generations, who are mostly cattle breeders, home. So, let that perceived genuine agenda, guide the herders’ mind in answering that call.”
Ohanaeze describes the call as “irresponsible”
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo socio-political group in its response warned the northern groups against overheating the polity with unnecessary commotion.
The apex Igbo group described the call for Fulani herdsmen to leave the south as irresponsible.
“There are harmless herders here who have been doing their legitimate business over the years, but there are also those who are into crime and kidnapping.
“We must separate the two. And of course, we are not saying herdsmen are responsible for all the crimes in our society. But the government of the day is not helping matters by some of its lopsided policies on the issue,” Chuks Ibegbu, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, said.
“Nobody is against peaceful herdsmen who have maintained good relationship with their hosts but we are against violent ones that kidnap and cause havoc to innocent Nigerians and farmers. These irredentists just want to overheat the polity and pretend they are concerned about the plight of herdsmen. What solution have these people offered to herdsmen all these years. None. They just want to appear relevant and caring whereas they are the problem of the herdsmen,” he added.
Ijaw Youth Council responds, says call irresponsible
Eric Omare, the President of the Ijaw Youth Council, has described the call for Fulani return as “irresponsible”.
“I don’t think that the order is practicable; I don’t think the call can be implemented by the herdsmen because the issue here has to do with the survival of human beings. Don’t forget that human survival comes before any other thing.
“The call is political and it is aimed at massaging the ego of those who made it. We consider the call as irresponsible, coming from leaders of a region in the country. They ought to come up with ideas on how to address the security challenges caused by Fulani herdsmen and not to call on all of them to return to the North.”
Mr. Joseph Simeon is an Editor/Content Creator at Naija Buzz News. He is an experienced content creator. He currently leads a small group of talented writers at Naija Buzz News. He previously served as the Relationship Editor at 1Push.Ng. He studied Public Administration at the Federal Polytechnic Idah, Kogi State, before proceeding to Kaduna Polytechnic Kaduna for his Advance Studies in Public Administration. Simeon loves and enjoys playing football.