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A former governor of Bauchi State, Malam Isa Yuguda, on Monday said Fulani herders deserve to defend themselves, alleging that Nigeria has been unfair to them.
The ex-governor stated this shortly after revalidating his membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) while reacting to recent comments by Governor Bala Mohammed on reasons why 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 can not wake up one day and begin to carry AK-47 rifles but did that because of neglect by the state.
The former governor lamented that despite their contributions to the economy of the country, all they get in return is neglect and unfair treatment from the state.
He recalled that as of the time when Lord Fredrick Luggard set up the government in Northern Nigeria, the Fulanis provided revenue that kick-started development in the North, which included Benue State where they were chased out, in terms of infrastructure.
‘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 Fulanis. 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.’
‘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.
Yuguda noted that those in authority ought to have resettled the herders as the population was expanding, adding that Southerners are only criminalising the Fulani people.
According to him, people had suggested in the past that Nigerians be allowed to carry guns, which did not attract any negative comments but when Governor Mohammed spoke about the herders carrying Ak-47 to protect themselves, people started to be sentimental about what the governor said.
‘Where were those in power with their brains that they never thought of resettling these people and make them an economy.’
‘The mindset, especially down South is that the Fulanis are gun-carrying people. There has been a clamour by senior citizens of this country that we should carry weapons but Governor Mohammed made a remark to that effect, everybody was sentimental.’
‘When a senior elder statement said we should carry guns, where were you guys? Nobody wrote about it until Governor Mohammed spoke about it.’
‘These people deserve the right to defend themselves, let us stop being sentimental for God sake,’ he said.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK