National President of Miyetti Allah Kautel Hore socio-cultural organization, Alhaji Abdullahi Bodejo has said that the Fulani herders can relocate to Sambisa forest if the facilities for carrying out their cattle business are provided. In this interview with WILLY EYA, he lamented the ugly experience the Fulani are going through in the country among other issues.
Following the massive protest against the Ruga settlement, the Federal Government has suspended the policy. As the National President of the Miyetti Allah Kautel Hore, how did that decision come to you?
Nobody requested for Ruga settlement in the first place. The Fulani already have their Ruga. What is the meaning of Ruga? Is it not a place where you have the Fulani houses? So, we already have Ruga but I do not know why all the confusion about all the issues concerning the Fulani in this country. This is because we have grazing reserve areas and people are not talking about it. They initially talked about the cattle colony and from there, they now started talking about Ruga. They said they wanted to settle the Fulani in one place but did anybody tell them what they wanted to do? Nobody had any meeting with them on the issue of Ruga but I noticed that there are now desperate people who claim to be Fulani leaders by all means. You can imagine, for instance, a Fulani man who has about 300 cows and nobody told him that they want to settle him in one place and suddenly, you started hearing about Ruga on the TV, radio and social media. See how innocent Fulani people are being chased away in the South East, South South and other places as if they are not Nigerians. What caused these things is the issue of Ruga but the Fulani being chased away do not even know about the Ruga policy. Even we the Fulani leaders did not know about the Ruga policy. We did not know any plan for that by the Federal Government or the Ministry of Agriculture. I have cows for instance and they are staying in Ruga but we have a problem with the cattle routes. If they are serious, let them come and discuss with the real Fulani leaders and not those who claim to be Fulani leaders and they go behind to collect bribe and speak for our people. How do you think you can settle the Fulani in one place? How many factories from the cow value chain do we have in this country now? If you say you want to put the Fulani in one Ruga settlement, how can you put for instance about 10,000 cows in one place? Do you want to kill the cows?
Don’t you think that why many Nigerians kicked against the Ruga settlement was because of your history? The fear in many quarters is that when they give you such settlements, your population begins to grow and after sometime, you not only claim ownership of such areas but appropriate more space to accommodate your growing population. The nearly intractable crisis between the Berom and the Fulani in Plateau State is usually a reference point to buttress this expansionist tendency–
Fulani people do not procreate more than the Tiv people. Some Tiv men marry more than 10 women. Who is talking that rubbish that Fulani grow in population and want to take over the land of other people? What about the Tiv people who give birth every second? Nobody is talking about them. Let me tell you, any place where you find the Fulani, they always progress because they are very intelligent. Do you want to stop my wife from getting pregnant so that the Fulani population will not grow again? Are you talking about the population of the cows or the Fulani? If you are talking about population of the Fulani, if they are not staying in the South South, South East, South West, Benue or Taraba, they can still give birth to children anywhere they are. Nobody can stop that one and nobody can drive them from Nigeria because they are indigenes. Forget what is happening to them now where they are chasing them away from here and there as if they are not Nigerians. Why they are doing all these things to us is because President Muhammadu Buhari is a Fulani man. They have turned every issue concerning the Fulani to politics in this country. Now, people who are thinking about the politics of 2023, they are using the Fulani issue to confuse the country. That is what they are using the issue of Ruga to do. In the case of Jos that you mentioned, nobody gave them any land there. They do not have any business with land but they settle there from time to do their cattle business. Do you know the meaning of Jos? It is how the Fulani used to call their cows that they got the name of Jos from and people are saying the Fulani want to take other people’s land. Like the issue of Ruga, if you do not create awareness about it, how can the Fulani benefit from it? If you take a Fulani man and keep him in NICON NOGA hotel, the following day, he would leave and run inside the bush to stay there. Nothing concerns the Fulani man with the hotel facilities. This is because it is not his culture.
But things cannot continue that way. All over the world, Nigeria is probably the only country now where you see cows still roaming about. Don’t you think it is time we embraced modern ways of the cattle business?
The problem in Nigeria is that both the federal and state governments are not serious about the issue of the Fulani. In the countries where you think the cows are not roaming about, they accepted the Fulani as their people. The threat that the Fulani are facing in this country today is because nobody wants to accept that they are Nigerians. Nobody wants to accept that the Fulani have rights in this country. Everybody is just trying to deny the Fulani their rights. For instance, the Benue, Taraba and other state governors are just working against the Fulani in their land. They behave as if they own the land but they do not own it; who gave it to them? Land belongs to God and everyone in Nigeria whether you are Tiv, Igbo, Ijaw and so on. If you are from Bayelsa for instance, do your business and allow the Fulani man to do his own. That is how God wants it to be. But see what is happening now in the country. The Fulani are facing so much threat in Nigeria.
Your argument is surprising, because many people see the Fulani as the major cause of the conflicts that we have in the country; in most of the clashes with farmers, they see them as the aggressors. So, you do not agree with that?
All these places that you mentioned now, the cows there belong mostly to politicians of those states. The politicians know about the value of cows very well. Most of the politicians want to collect the business of cows from the Fulani people. That is why they are creating all these problems. My position is that in anywhere there is conflict, anybody who breaks the law must be brought to book to face the consequences. For me, I have not seen any single man that the Fulani has killed. If you know any place where the Fulani killed somebody in the process of clashes with farmers, tell me. Mention the place and tomorrow, I will set up a committee to investigate it.
Some are toying with the possibility of settling the Fulani herders in Sambisa forest, which is a wide expanse of land that can accommodate any population. Don’t you think that with the proper facilities, such a place could permanently end the farmers/herders clashes?
Whether Sambisa or anywhere, the Fulani can stay. 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; 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 fertilize 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. I will be the number one person who will go there.
Many people think that President Buhari is pampering the Fulani and that he is always coming out with some exclusive policies to favour his people; do you agree?
God will punish the father of any person who says Buhari is pampering any Fulani man. Let me tell you, in Nigeria, with what is happening to the Fulani, including when they are being killed, have you ever heard Buhari say anything? We love Buhari but even we the Fulani leaders, sometime we wonder the kind of president that God has given us. Even with what is happening to us, people do not want to leave President Buhari alone because he is Fulani. Do people want President Buhari to just delete us from the country so that they can be happy? Those who say Buhari is pampering the Fulani, no matter what the president does for them, they will still complain and be talking rubbish against him. That is why the Fulani is in a terrible situation in this country today. Buhari is the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not for the Fulani. Look at the issue of Ruga, go and make your investigation very well, was it Buhari who gave the directive for the policy? It was done under the Ministry of Agriculture. Is the immediate past Minister of Agriculture a Fulani man? Like the issue of the cattle colony which was also shut down, did the Ministry of Agriculture consult Buhari before they started talking about the cattle colony? Ask yourself, why did the cattle colony fail?
Your sister organization, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) recently proposed the establishment of vigilance groups in the 36 states of the country; what is your view on that?
I do not support the move by MACBAN to establish vigilance groups. I do not know the crazy person that started talking about the establishment of vigilance groups in the South East. It is for what? It was the South East chairman of Miyetti Allah that started it. That man is not a Fulani man. He is among those sabotaging the interest of the Fulani in this country. God will punish him for that. Did he consult with the Fulani before talking about the establishment of vigilance groups in the country? Did he say that because he collected money or money for recharge cards? Is that why he can talk about the Fulani? He said they are cattle breeders but they can be breeding rats and all that there. He is not a real Fulani man. Let me tell you, some people are just trying to create confusion in this country. Most of the Fulani do not know anything happening including the recent issue of the Ruga settlement. You say you want to build houses for me and put me in the Ruga settlement and I am in the bush, are you going to arrest me from the bush and put me there? Nobody called the Fulani for any meeting to talk about the Ruga settlement. It is a big problem for the Fulani and we are really in trouble. I am calling on Mr President and the Inspector General of Police to protect the lives of the Fulani in this country. The Fulani are going through a lot of problems wherever they find themselves in this country. Mr President should suspend the Ruga settlement policy because we do not need it.
Source: The Sun