By Kayode Oyero
One of the umbrella bodies of herdsmen in Nigeria, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, says South-West governors, with their anti-herdsmen stance, are creating problem for the All Progressives Congress Chieftain, Bola Tinubu, and his rumoured presidential ambition in 2023.
Spokesman for the group, Saleh Alhassan, spoke on Wednesday while featuring on PUNCH Online interview programme, The Roundtable.
Of late, nomadic herders in parts of the country, especially in the South-West geopolitical zone, have been accused of trespassing on farmlands of host farmers with their cattle. Farm produce worth millions of naira have been destroyed in the last few months. Some herders have also been accused of raping women in host communities, kidnapping the rich and in some cases, killing host residents, amongst other unprintable crimes.
Governors in the zone under the aegis of the South-West Governors’ Forum chaired by Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, have come up with many proposed solutions including prohibition of open grazing, night grazing, under-age grazing, amongst others.
Many leaders in Yorubaland including leader of socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, had also said Tinubu was afraid to speak on the herders crisis because he does not want to jeopardise his 2023 presidential ambition and because he does not want to offend the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
But the former Lagos State governor broke his silence on the matter on March 13, 2021 in a statement titled, ‘Tinubu’s Statement On The Herder Crisis’.
In the statement made available to The PUNCH, the former Lagos State governor urged state governments to convert unoccupied public lands to ranches for herdsmen.
Reacting to the proposed idea by Tinubu as a way of solving the near-perennial farmers-herders crisis rocking the nation, the Miyetti Allah spokesman lauded the idea but said the country was not yet ready to embrace or implement “progressive solutions”.
Alhassan said, “I sympathise with him (Tinubu) because if he says more than what he is saying, they will say may be he is pushing for his presidential ambition. That is why he takes time before he even respond but I expected him to call all his political godsons —who are governors — that are causing this confusion to order. He should call them and say, ‘Hey, when I become president, I will solve this problem for us’ (and) not to create problem for him, for his ambition.”
When asked whether the farmers-herders crisis could affect the political ambition of Tinubu, Alhassan alleged, “When you have a group of people attacking citizens, does it translate to political love? When you have the supposed Amotekun joining militants to attack traders in Shasha (in Oyo State), burn their properties, does it give a good political value to whoever wants to get support from those people?”
He also said the crisis was being exaggerated to score political points, adding that the Fulani herders who are of the same ethnic stock as the President are not enjoying any special preference or benefits from the Buhari regime.