The herdsmen group had recently proposed a vigilance group in the region. But the proposal has been generating ripples across the region. Interest groups have been condemning the move even as the governors are not spared by the vicious outrage, which the proposal has ignited.
Pro-Biafra groups have been despising the governors’ forum for the proposal, which came from the summit organised by the forum in collaboration with the South East chamber of commerce, industry, mines and Agriculture in Enugu.
The secessionists believe that the idea was foisted on the governors’ forum that has continued to be in their black book for supporting the alleged clampdown by the Buhari administration, which led to its proscription as a terrorist group.
The people of Eastern Nigeria, the hotbed of Biafra agitation, are seeing the idea as a plot to further consolidate the mayhem of the rampaging herdsmen in some parts of the country. Many people have continued to wonder why the group decided to choose the eastern axis, which is relatively peaceful in the country as a frontier for the establishment of Fulani youths vigilance group.
Its organisers say the security summit was aimed at achieving effective policing of the South East zone for improved business environment. The summit was also attended by the five governors of the East, security chiefs in the zone, the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and others.
Activities of Fulani herdsmen have been strongly resisted in the zone starting with the creation of the proposed grazing route, cattle ranch and cattle colony. In spite of the spate of killings, wastages, destruction of properties and other violent activities often accused the herders of across the country, the leaders of the herders have always maintained that their members were peace loving, law-abiding and very co-habitable anywhere in the country.
With their violent activities, Ndigbo have not changed their negative perception about the Fulani herdsmen. They still see herders as people who should never exist in their midst. Herders are seen as “murderers” in the bush. With their cattle, many farmlands have been destroyed. Farmers are always apprehensive to meet with the herders either for goods or pleasantries.
In Ebonyi State, there are records of deadly clashes, with scores of people allegedly killed in Enugu when suspected herders invaded a community about two years ago. The bloodletting also necessitated the ban of the influx of new herders, movement of cattle in the night by the Ebonyi State Government, while those who have lived for many years in the state are subjected to biometric exercise.
Perhaps, in a bid to redeem the negative impression associated with Fulani herdsmen, the MACBAN proposed the need to establish Fulani youths vigilante, who will be interfacing and collaborating with local vigilante of host communities to forestall any clash between the herders and their host communities.
MACBAN National President, Mohammadu Kirowa, regretted that once insecurity was mentioned in Nigeria, the first thing that comes to mind was Fulani herdsmen. Represented by the National Secretary, Baba Usman Ngelzerma, the group noted that the East was a good host, which was the reason why it condemned all forms of violence and criminalities through its patrons like the Sultan of Sokoto, the Emir of Kano and the Lamido of Adamawa.
While agitating for an establishment of Fulani Youth Vigilante group, the group noted that the body will be working with the security, the neighborhood watch or vigilante to ensure security in all communities, as it was done in Enugu State.
‘’We will solicit for your support and cooperation in adopting dialogue where problems exist as a means of brokering peace and to report cases against our members to either the Fulani Youth Vigilante Group, state or local branch of the association’’, Kirowa said.
Since the proposal went viral on the media, it has been described as hellish, and another plot to conquer and Islamise the Igbo race. The Eastern governors said the proposal was funny, ridiculous and strange.
Chairman of the governors’ forum and Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi noted that following the lingering controversies surrounding the alleged proposal by the Miyetti Alah to organise local vigilance groups in the East to curtail crime, their governors’ forum has denied ever being ready to allow such suggestions come to fruition.
‘’I find it extremely strange for anybody to think that none locals in any part of the country including South East could be allowed to form vigilante outfit. The Miyetti Allah group may have made that suggestion which I believe will never mean to form a vigilante in South East, whichever is the meaning, no governor will allow that.
‘’South East governors have their local vigilantes working with security agencies. Any such demand by Miyetti group is a joke and not acceptable. Governors of South East are doing their best and we have no problems receiving insults from our people. It’s the price for leadership. The important thing to us is the safety and wellbeing of our people. OPC and other pressure groups may not have found it fashionable to be insulting their leaders even when their leaders may not be saints.
‘’My task is to develop Ebonyi State, contribute in rebuilding South East and Nigeria. My calling is not to insult others for me to do these. Have we been fairly treated? No! Can we solve the problem by hate speeches? For me, no! No body, no matter the level of pretence can change my style of peaceful leadership. Ebonyi in particular has suffered so much even in the context of South East. We believe that we do not need hate speeches as a strategy to solve our problems’’, Umahi said.
Talking tough, the embattled governors are insisting on no Miyetti vigilante in South East, no cattle ranch or colony but that they must live peacefully with herdsmen that do not destroy their farmland especially, those that were born in the region and have lived peacefully with them.
The leadership of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), at the weekend issued a stern warning to MACBAN to stay action in attempt to establish vigilante group in Biafra land. They made this known in a statement by the Director Of Information, Edeson Samuel in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi.
‘’MASSOB vehemently reject the attempt by a terrorist group in disguise called MACBAN to establish a Fulani vigilante group in Biafra land. It is provocative and an insult to Ndigbo. It’s also another dimension of adding more salt to the political, economic and religious injuries of Ndigbo.
‘’For these so-called cattle breeders to have suggested for an establishment of vigilante in Igbo land is a clear evidence of their plans to dominate and conquer the entire southern region, which their grandfather, Othman Dan Fodio commanded them to do. This is their next move to annihilate the entire Igbo nation in the name of providing security for Ndigbo. MASSOB can never allow our arch enemies to provide us with security, allowing such is as good as Ndigbo committing suicide.
‘’MASSOB wishes to remind our people that on Thursday 11th June 2019, these marauding terrorist called Fulani herdsmen blocked Agbani-Ugbawka road in Nkanu LGA, Enugu State. They robbed passengers in commercial vehicle of their belongings and money. They also took some women into the nearby bush and raped them.
‘’It is a pity that Ndigbo are sleeping while our house is on fire. These Fulani herdsmen are President Muhammadu Buhari’s foot soldiers, who have come to do the biding of their master, moving from states to communities with AK 47 rifles, killing farmers, raping their women, destroying their farm crops and setting their houses ablaze. If cattle breeders provide security, they should go to Zamfara, Maiduguri or Katsina States and other areas in the North where, Boko Haram has taken over. As they say, charity begins at home’’, the Biafra group said.
Meanwhile, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State who made the news of the planned security outfits public, said the six states of the region will launch a new security architecture in August to tackle the insecurity in their habitat.
Governor Makinde’s Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, in a statement after a special thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Yemetu, Ibadan, the state capital, .pointed out that the event was in honour of Madam Abigail Makinde, the mother of the governor.
According to him, governors in the region have met and agreed to launch the new security architecture to nip the menace of insecurity in the bud. He also made it known to the people of the state that his administration will equally launch its state-own security system before his 100 days in office.
Governors of Western Nigeria, according to Makinde, have been meeting to find lasting solutions to the security challenges in the region, insisting, ‘’I and other governors of the South West, have met on how to launch a new security architecture before the end of August 2019.
The first 100 days of Makinde’s administration will be on September 5, and before the 5th of September, they will be launching a new security architecture for the state even as the governor reiterated the commitment of his administration towards the four key pillars of his administration, which are security, health, education and economy.
Continuing, he said his administration will strengthen supervision and monitoring of the implementation of health and education policies, adding that the government will also direct energy in the way of job creation to ensure that the teeming population of unemployed youths are taken care of.
Makinde stated that having cancelled the N3,000 education levy imposed on students by the immediate past administration, his government would ensure strict monitoring of the improved monthly subvention, which will soon be provided for the schools.
According to him, his administration decided to cancel the levies hitherto imposed on students of public schools to allow many indigent students have access to free education, adding, ‘’the government is intent on ensuring the smooth running of schools but will also put in place a monitoring system that would ensure efficiency.’’
He said what he met on ground as regard health sector, was ‘’more of window dressing. I have visited Adeoye Hospital Ibadan and what I saw at Adeoyo was more of window dressing, the radiography machine has never worked since it was installed’’, alleging that the past administration spent some money in some sectors, especially health without monitoring its effectiveness.