FULANI herdsmen’s body the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban) has said that it would be happy to locate its members to a dedicated ranch in Sambisa Forest so long as the necessary facilities are provided there.
Over the last month, the political temperature in Nigeria has risen substantially after it emerged that the federal government was proposing that states make land available to Fulani cattle herdsmen to allow them create livestock colonies. Coming against a background whereby Fulani cattle herdsmen have carried out numerous murderous attacks against farming communities, the move has been bitterly opposed.
Within the last five or so years, heavily armed herdsmen have been attacking villages, particularly in the Middle Belt, murdering thousands of innocent villagers. Several state governors have suggested that herdsmen should establish private ranches to raise their livestock, to end the practise of them marching their animals across the country along grazing routes.
With opposition to the plan so fierce, President Muhammadu Buhari was forced to abandon Ruga and refer the matter back to the National Economic Council (NEC), made up of state governors and chaired by vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo. After holding a meeting earlier this week, the NEC opted to adopt an alternative National Livestock Transformation Plan.
Wading into the crisis, Macban president Alhaji Abdullahi Bodejo, said that he would be happy for Fulani herdsmen to relocate to Sambisa forest. He, however, added that the facilities for carrying out their cattle business must be provided there, pointing out that Macban never requested for Ruga settlements in the first place.
Alhaji Bodejo said: “Whether Sambisa or anywhere, the Fulani can stay as the Fulani people do not fear Sambisa or any forest. The Fulani are ready to stay anywhere there is bush but number one is that there must be water which their cows can drink and there must be grasses for their cows to eat.
“If Sambisa has all those facilities, you do not need to introduce it to the Fulani as they would go there and herd their cows. If you see any place where the Fulani do not go to, it is because such a place does not have water and grasses for the grazing of their cows.
“All the places like Enugu, Benue and Taraba, if Fulani don’t go there to fertilise their land, nobody will go there to farm. The Fulani have settled in many places including the Federal Capital Territory before the farmers came there, so, if the federal government could introduce the Fulani to the Sambisa Forest, we are ready to go there and I will be the number one person who will go there.
“Nobody requested for Ruga settlement in the first place, so I do not know why all the confusion about all the issues concerning the Fulani in this country. Nobody had any meeting with the Fulani on the issue of Ruga but I noticed that there are now desperate people who claim to be Fulani leaders by all means,” Alhaji Bodejo added.