By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The National President of Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Dr Pogu Bitrus has said it is sectional, divisive and unfortunate for the Northern Elders to call on President Buhari to protect Fulanis in the southern part of the country.
He urged the elders to properly advise the president on the need for the country to embrace ranching as a panacea for the lingering farmers/herders conflict.
Speaking to Vanguard Wednesday in Makurdi, Dr Bitrus said, “I do not agree with them because to me that statement is sectional. They are supposed to act as Nigerians.
“The Fulani herders or marauders have been killing in the Middle Belt, it switched to the North West and now it has gone to the southern part of the country.
“At least in the South, they are getting a good response to the attacks for the first time. When they were killing us in the Middle Belt they did not respond, the northern elders didn’t even say anything. They didn’t mind, they only started talking when they were killing their brothers in the North West.
“And in that, they did not ask President Buhari to do anything. They were only complaining about the general security situation. Now it is the South West and they are calling on the President to protect the Fulani.
“I think it is divisive and unfortunate. They are supposed to tell the President that it is high time he addressed the issue of conflict brought about by the Fulanis.
“Why the Fulanis all the time? And many of these Fulanis are not even Nigerians. Why are they being protected and or the Northern Elders calling on the President to protect them?
“Rather, what I would have liked to hear from them is for them to say that the issue of conflicts between Fulanis and other Nigerians should be halted by changing their historic attitude of open grazing and restricting them to ranches which is the modern practice in animal husbandry.
“So rather than being sectional, they should look at the issue of why these people have been attacking Nigerians and that the President should address that issue and not for them to call for the protection of Fulani.
“Some of them have even gone as far as saying that the Fulanis should come back to the North. By saying that they also imply that southerners should go back to the south, that is not right.
“Nigeria is for everybody, and what we will want is for them to ask Mr President to address this thing once and for all. The modern practice of animal husbandry is ranching and nothing more.
“If the Fulanis start ranching they will not destroy people’s farms and they will not ask their brothers to go and attack people and they will also not organized to kidnap people. It is as simple as that,” Bitrus said.