The South-East chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria on Monday said its interest in the region was purely economic and nothing more.
The Chairman of MACBAN in the zone, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, stated this while briefing journalists shortly after a meeting of the joint executive council of the group in Enugu, Punch reports.
Siddiki said the clarification became necessary following growing suspicion and speculation in some quarters about the activities of herders in the zone.
He said it was imperative to correct the impression that their interests in the region were beyond economic pursuits.
Siddiki explained that the suspicion that herdsmen were harbingers of Fulani territorial expansionism had degenerated into unhealthy relationships in most parts of the region.
The chairman said such suspicion had made members of the association increasingly uncomfortable.
He said herders in the region were desirous of striking harmonious relationships with the people of the area to avoid mutual suspicion.
Siddiki stated, “This suspicion is rooted in the speculation that herdsmen are harbingers of Fulani territorial expansionism.
“However, the leadership of MACBAN, under my watch in the South-East, has continued to discuss appreciably well with the individual state governments in the zone.
“I am happy that the dialogue gives us hope for a better understanding between our members and their host communities.”
He said the group would not hesitate to report any of its members found to be involved in criminal activities.
He called on the governments of the South-East states to ensure the protection of the body’s members and cattle, adding that herders in the area would be made to take precautionary measures while plying their trade.
Siddiki said that MACBAN recognised that the challenges the herders were facing in the region were not peculiar to the zone, adding that there were bound to be conflicts between people of diverse cultural orientations.
He, however, said it was time to sort out the differences.
The MACBAN leader stated, “We, hereby, jointly resolve to fully lend our efforts toward fostering an enduring and harmonious relationship with our host communities.
“We urge members of our host communities to be more accommodating too.”
Siddiki described the people of the South-East as good and promised that MACBAN would not do anything to create tension in the area.