A Fulani Professor, Umar Labdo who is the National Secretary of Fulani Development Association of Nigeria (FULDAN) has revealed how the Fulani have helped in the development of Nigeria and what the association will do if herdsmen are banned from south.
Speaking in an interview with Vanguard, the Professor condemned the quit notice given to Fulani herdsmen by the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, saying that as a SAN, he should be aware that it is against the law of Nigeria.
He added that there is crime in all tribes, adding that the fact that Yahoo boys are mainly Yorubas, and Drug pushers are mainly Igbos does not mean all Yorubas are Yahoo boys and all Igbos are Drug pushers. He stressed that if banditry or kidnapping is found mainly among the Fulani does not mean all the Fulani are criminals.
He said that the picture leaders in the South are painting is that the Fulani tribe is a dangerous one and are indirectly telling their people to attack Fulani, adding that when this occur, they will have to defend themselves which will then lead to chaos.
“I have said it several times and I will say it again that the quit notice is wrong, it is illegal and it is not good if there is going to be peaceful co-existence of members of one federation. There are many southerners, including Yoruba living in the north, in my own state, in my town, doing their own business in peace, making their own livelihood and no one is asking them to vacate. Moreover, there are criminals in all the tribes. Yahoo boys are mainly Yoruba, drug pushers are mainly Igbo, now if for the sake of argument, banditry or kidnapping is found mainly among the Fulani, that doesn’t mean that all the Fulani are criminals. Generalizing and stereotyping all Fulani is very wrong, it is dangerous because the leaders in the south are indirectly telling their people or followers to attack Fulani. And naturally, when they attack the Fulani, they will have to defend themselves which will lead to chaos.
“If there are criminals among the Fulani, they should be dealt with according to the law. We have law enforcement agents, it is their job to fish out criminals, prosecute them and punish them so that the society will be healthy. But just because crimes are committed at your backyard, you then lose all sense of reasoning and start casting aspersions on people like that.. That is not helpful at all.
He said that 50 years ago, the Fulani were living in the bush but no one called them criminals and that the colonial government recognized the Fulani as great contributors to the economic development of Nigeria and that was why the image of a Fulani was seen in the Nigeria’s pound inherited by the naira. He buttress the fact that the Fulani have contributed to the development of Nigeria by telling Nigerians to look at the Naira and they will see pictures of cows.
He also said that if one checks the old postage stamps issued by colonial masters, pictures of Fulani and cows will be seen and that the Colonial Government knew that Fulani are not criminals. He also said that if Fulani herdsmen are banned from the south, the Fulani Association will have no option but to retaliate because they contributed to the development of Nigeria.
“We tried to counsel our people or advise them. We interact, enlighten them and make them understand that times have changed and they should come out of the bush and engage in ranching. They can not continue moving around as it was 50 or 100 years ago. We let them know that they are Nigerians who have helped in the development of Nigeria’s economy.
“We told them you people are being cheated because your children don’t go to school, you don’t drink potable water, no electricity, and you don’t enjoy amenities provided by government. And so, it is to your own detriment if you continue living in the bush. Come out, let the government help you settle down. And we believe the RUGA Programme of the Federal government should be implemented. That was what we told them.
“But fishing out criminals among them is not our job. If we see criminals, we will run away. How can we fish out criminals? But we cautioned them not to mingle with criminals or harbour them, if they do that, they are inviting trouble to themselves. If they see criminals, they should report them.
These people you see in the bush are normal, rational human beings, they are not poor, they are going with their own wealth. Those cows you see are worth millions, so even Fulani you see in the bush don’t welcome criminality. If it is somebody sitting idle, unemployed or very poor, maybe that one will be tempted to commit crime but not somebody who is pursuing a very noble profession, herding livestock inherited from his forefathers for centuries.
The Fulani Professor called on the Government to help the Fulani with more settlement, adding that they are citizens and not empty handed. He also said that Fulani are rich people, adding that their wealth are on four legs (cows) and that no one can claim that they have bog eaten cow meat.
He stated that Fulani are doing well in various sectors in Nigeria, and even those in politics are representing the interest of Nigeria and should never be seen as less of a human being.