Story by Sadyatt Bello |
Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State on Friday has said that the media quoted his comment on armed herders out of context, saying he used ‘AK-47’ as a figure of speech.
The governor says, “I was addressing the media people, and the topic was the use of the media to foster national unity and I was trying to situate the problem,” that “the Fulani man is so exposed, dehumanised, demonised in fact, because he is being seen as a bandit and so, anywhere he goes, he is being pursued. Not only in the southwest or the southeast, even in the north, because he is in the cattle route, his commonwealth which I call his cows, are being taken and rustled and of course, sometimes, they are fined beyond your imagination.
The governor also argued that “the cattle route has been taken away illegally without the authority giving permission,” and that herders are “fined seriously, mercilessly”, if one cow strays into someone’s farm.
“And so, he is exposed and then he has no option but to protect himself. “Why wouldn’t the Fulani man protect himself? And if he carries a gun in order to protect himself, it may not be a legal carriage, it may be legal. He may also register and carry it to protect himself..”
According to critics, the governor only replaced some words in his previous comments which were rebuffed by Benue state governor Ortom and his Ondo counterpart, firing serious backlash from other political commentators across Nigeria.
Nigeria’s insecurity issue has become a booming business of sorts, (and fingers constantly point in the direction of armed Fulani herders, killer Fulani herdsmen, or bandits as some would rather address them) with random and frequent kidnapping of students and individuals across Nigeria, latest being the Federal Government College students in Kagara Minna, Niger state, where a schoolboy was shot to death in the process. According to Niger state governor, Abubakar Bello, the government is negotiating a common ground with the kidnappers over the safe release of the students and others held by them. The negotiation is facilitated by Islamic fundamentalist and cleric, Abubakar Gumi, who has advised the Federal government to give the Abductors and other terror factions, Blanket Immunity to ensure lasting peace.
Governor Bala Mohammed’s comment has further infuriated many across Nigeria and in Diaspora, while Ondo governor, Akeredolu, and Samuel Ortom of Benue condemned the comments utterly.
Akeredolu who in January 2021 gave a seven-day vacate order to killer herdsmen habiting Ondo forests over the frequent killings, kidnap for ransome and rape, and the spread of terror in his state, reacting to Bala Mohammed’s comment, asks “For what purpose? Bala Mohammed has even poured more petrol into the fire because his speech is unexpected of him. It will become very serious and nobody will be spared.”
“Bala Mohammed has not spoken like a statesman.”
Ortom questions governor Mohammed’s political ideology within the framework of a united Nigeria, saying, “It was the same Governor Mohammed who once said on national television that a Fulani man is a global citizen and therefore does not need a visa to come to Nigeria and that the forests belong to herdsmen.” Governor Ortom also questions the section of the law the Bauchi governor, cited to support herdsmen’s free movement around the country with sophisticated weapons.
Nigeria’s President Buhari has only recently changed the nation’s security chiefs, after several months of repeated calls and demands by Nigerians for increased security and national peace.