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Obiano Moves To Forestall Clashes Between Fulani Herdsmen, Agrarian Communities In Anambra

By James Eze
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Following the growing onslaught of Fulani herdsmen on agrarian communities in the South East and North Central zones of the country, the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has convened a tripartite meeting between the leaders of the Fulani community in the state, the traditional rulers of agrarian communities and the state government to fashion out a proactive response to the menace.

Addressing the gathering Thursday at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia, Governor Obiano revealed that there were suspicious movements in some parts of the state that were being carefully monitored to ensure that there was no immediate threat to the security of the state.

“What we intend to do is to send the Fulanis that are living with us here to go and meet with the Fulanis in that area with a view to finding out whether they are coming in peace or otherwise. More importantly, we want Fulanis in this committee to tell the members of this committee if their people are nursing any grievance in whatever form,” Governor Obiano explained and further pointed out that early in the life of his administration he had set up a special committee to nurture mutually beneficial relations between the Hausa/Fulani Community in the state and their hosts.

“I don’t want anybody to take laws into their hands. That is why we set up this committee and we have agreed that compensation should be paid for any losses on either side. That is the way to co-exist in a multi-ethnic and diverse society.

More importantly, we agreed at the Security Council Meeting that we will not allow herdsmen to carry arms. That is a clear directive from Abuja. Herdsmen are not supposed to bear arms. Please, if you see any herdsmen with AK47, report them early to the police so that they can be picked up, ”Governor Obiano advised. Speaking further, the governor recalled that Fulani herdsmen used to be known with their long sticks and daggers which they wielded to protect their cows.

“But these Fulani herdsmen that carry AK47 riffles are worrisome. We don’t want what happened in Enugu to happen here. But if the three options we are proposing fail, we are ready to defend ourselves. But we don’t want it to get to that point. We don’t want anything to destroy the beautiful relationship that has existed between Igbos and Fulanis and other Nigerian tribes. We want Anambra to be a shining example,” he declared. “I want to once more assure that the lives of Fulanis, the Hausas and other non-indigenes in Anambra State are secured. We shall protect you.

Nothing will happen to you in Anambra State,” Governor Obiano assured. Also speaking, the Chairman of the South East Zone of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Siddiki Gidado commended Governor Obiano for convening such a crucial meeting at a very trying time in the nation’s history. Speaking further, Alhaji Gidado noted that every part of Nigeria is increasingly in one pain or the other, “and our herdsmen are spared neither the pains nor the blames consequent upon some of these unpleasant occurrences.

I must confess that life out there in the jungle where our people breed their cattle is rough and this is often compounded by either some acts of carelessness by some herdsmen or sheer acts of suspicion from natives who might not be hospitable to the herdsmen traversing their physical space.

Neither of the issues can be adjudged insurmountable. It only demands constructive commitment from the governments and other concerned groups who would deconstruct the underlying hate mind-set and create a healthy room for mutual trust amidst diverse business interests.

The code of healthy engagements must be entrenched in the psyche of the herdsmen and their landlords wherever they are found,” he suggested. Alhaji Gidado further decried the wanton loss of lives and property caused by the growing clashes between Fulani herdsmen and their host communities, maintaining that “no amount of efforts deployed towards achieving harmonious living amongst peoples is costlier than the price of disharmony.

I have played major roles in managing crises between herdsmen and locals in this part of the country. I, in all honesty, wish to state that since the causes of these tensions are identifiable, they can be pre-empted, remedied and prevented if only constituted authorities genuinely declare support for our organization in its determination to continually educate our people and the locals on workable terms of frictionless engagement.”

In his own comments, the leader of the Muslim Community in Anambra State, Alhaji Sule Momodu observed that Muslims in the state had never had it so good as they presently do under Obiano.

“We have celebrated Sallah with him here in the Lodge and during the month of Ramadan, he has consistently given us food with which to break our fast. If we look at that, you will agree with me that we have no reason whatsoever to foment trouble in Anambra State because we have not been treated as strangers,” Alhaji Momodu observed.

Thanking Governor Obiano for appointing a member of the Muslim Community his Special Assistant, Alhaji Momodu noted that it was the first time since the creation of the state that a Hausa/Fulani was given such an honour.

“These are indicative of why the herdsmen and their hosts should never quarrel and whatever our grievances we should resolve them amicably. We should not allow any discord to creep in between us,” he advised.