Professor Umar Labdo, the National Secretary of Fulani Development Association of Nigeria, FULDAN, has said that the quit notice given to Fulani herdsmen in the south is wrong and that if attacks on the nomads continue, it will lead to retaliation.
In an interview with journalist, the professor disclosed this, stating that the stereotyping of all Fulani people is wrong.
In his words, “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”.
When Professor Labdo was asked how criminality amongst the Fulani can be identified, he said that “fishing out” criminals is not FULDAN’s job.
He said that the association had worked to counsel and sensitize the Fulani herdsmen on the current social climate in the country, and have worked to advise them to allow themselves to be reintegrated into society.
“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, ” he said.
“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 the amenities provided by the government.
“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 harbor them, if they do that, they are inviting trouble to themselves”.
According to Professor Labdo, the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, used the debacle of insecurity in the region to be a hero. He also accused the governor of issuing a statement that was unconstitutional and using the narrative of herdsmen criminality to gain “cheap popularity”.
“Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu who is a senior lawyer (SAN), was issuing a statement that he knew was contrary to our Constitution. He wanted to be a hero of his people, playing to the gallery”, he said. “He knew that his people were angry with the Fulani because certain criminal elements among them were causing damage to their farms so he wanted to gain cheap popularity”.
Labdo then proferred a solution to the herding issues, saying that the government should take the matter with urgency and that the city Fulani population is generally also not happy with the idea of nomadic farming.
“I think what government at all levels should do is to look into the situation as a matter of urgency. We, the Fulani are not happy that our people are going about. This is not life, it used to be but no more. We want them to settle down, we want our children to go to school, we want them to enjoy life and social amenities.”, he said.
When asked about his stance on Governor Ganduje’s ban on herdsmen moving from the north to southern parts of the country, Labdo said that he disagreed with it. “If you want to ban them from going to the south, then you must ban people from coming to the north also.”, he said.
“the responsibility rests on the Federal government to have the political will to put a stop to this madness otherwise it will lead us to hell.”, he said.