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Buhari ‘Fulani herdsmen problem as old as Nigeria itself,’ President says

President Muhammadu Buhari also said that his government would develop the capacity to keep Nigeria united.

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President Muhammadu Buhari play

President Muhammadu Buhari

(Daily Post)

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Fulani herdsmen crisis is as old as Nigeria itself.

Buhari also said that his government would develop the capacity to keep Nigeria united.

He made the comments while speaking to journalists during a recent trip to London.

Excerpts from The Cable below:

On a permanent solution to the herdsmen crisis

The problem is virtually as old as Nigeria itself. Culturally, the herdsmen don’t stay in one place. They move with the season. Normally, harvest is completed much earlier in the north. Then they have to move southwards for green pasture. In the first republic, there was what they called cattle routes and grazing areas.

They were marked. Infrastructure were put in terms of windmills, earth dams, even veterinary clinics. Now after first republic, people turned these places into farms. And if you have 500 cows, if they don’t eat for 24 hours, or need water, you can’t stop them [from moving around].

What they used to do then is that if anybody went outside the cattle route, or outside the grazing area, he would be arrested, taken before an alkali’s court, fined. If he can pay, okay. The money is taken and given to the farmer. If he can’t pay, the cattle is sold and the farmer is paid. People were behaving themselves.

So when people came and took away the land for the cattle route, for the grazing areas, you find out that from Kaduna to Bayelsa, Nigerians are fighting cattle rearers now. But when I was in the Petroleum Trust Fund, we made a comprehensive study of cattle routes and grazing areas throughout Nigeria. I am referring the governors’ forum and the minister of agriculture and rural development to the report. Let them see what they can do and save the situation.

Meanwhile, there seems to be some credibility that there are other than Nigerian cattle rearers involved. Now this is because of what happened in Libya. Gaddafi, during his 43-year regime, trained some people from the Sahel… militarily, he trained them. And when his regime was overthrown, those people were again dispatched to their countries. They are gone, carrying their weapons and they found themselves even in Boko Haram.

It is a major regional and virtually African problem. They work with al Qaeda, with Boko Haram, and so on. It is a government project now to trace them, and disarm them and if necessary try them and lock them up.

On Niger Delta militancy flaring up again

I was elected by the whole country and the least I can do is to keep the country together. I assure you, we will develop the capacity to do it. If you could recall, I appointed a retired brigadier-general, Paul Boroh, and when I give people assignment and give them the terms of reference, I allow them to do their work.

I spoke to the chief of naval staff and other service chiefs to work with him and help him to make sure that those who are blowing the installations and subverting investments in Nigeria, we will deal with them eventually. The militants are saying the agreement entered for the amnesty, including payments and training and employment were not being met.

To the best of my knowledge, these are their grievances. So we put this officer who is from there to revisit the agreement, and see which part the federal government needs to fulfill.


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