The spokesman for Livestock Breeders Association of Nigeria (LIBAN), Kaduna State chapter, Hussaini Salisu, has said blaming foreign Fulani herdsmen for the farmer-herder conflict in Nigeria, may provoke Fulani in neighbouring countries to launch attacks on Nigeria.
Salisu, who is a Fulani rice farmer as well as a herder, claimed that the occupations of farmers and cattle rearers alike are being threatened by insecurity, particularly kidnapping and banditry.
In an interview with Sun, he noted that everyone had given the tag of banditry and kidnapping to herdsmen, claiming the herders also need to be protected.
He lamented that Fulani people have also been cheated, citing an example of how all his cows had been rustled and how difficult it had become for him to go to the farm.
Salisu also claimed that Fulani people are the most hated people in Nigeria despite their desire to live in peace with everybody.
”If you continue to talk about Fulani this way, they will not have peace and if they don’t have peace, you cannot have peace yourself,” he said.
Salisu holds the traditional title of Dallatun Laduga in Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
He said, ”I am the Dallatun of Laduga in Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State. I am a rice farmer. My parents live in the bush. We farm and rear cattle. We have farmers and cattle rearers whose occupations are being threatened by insecurity, particularly kidnapping and banditry.
“And the only way out of this insecurity is for the government to be realistic and non-partial in ensuring that peace is restored. Fulani people have been threatened by insecurity and their cows rustled over the years.
“Now, the government is trying to protect the farmers so that they can work on their farms without fear of being kidnapped. But nobody is talking about protecting the Fulani herdsmen who are rearing cows. They need to be protected too.
”We Fulani have been cheated, myself in particular, all my cows have been rustled, and I cannot also go to the farm. And somebody will say there will be peace? I know many people will say Fulani are the bandits, kidnappers, this is how they have been frustrated. If you continue to talk about Fulani this way, they will not have peace and if they don’t have peace, you cannot have peace yourself.”
Speaking on the implications of insecurity on farming in Nigeria, Salisu noted that food scarcity will continue.
He said, ”Food scarcity will continue because the government says it will not import food, and now insecurity does not allow farmers to go to the farms to work. And the little farm produce is being bought off by urban traders who travel to the village in search of food. So, urban dwellers rely on rural communities for food.
“The rural farmers and herders were living peacefully before now until city dwellers brought calamity to them by way of divide and rule in order to buy off their goods at cheaper rates. My parents were the pioneer owners of grazing reserves in Kachia, Kaduna State. My parents sponsored me to school from proceeds realised from the sales of their cattle.
“Up till today, my parents are in the bush rearing their cattle. But their 5,000 cattle have been reduced to 1,000 now as a result of rustling by criminal elements.”
Salisu cited the cause of farmers/herders' clash in the past as ownership claims of the land but noted that the current one is simply communal clashes while stressing that Fulani people are the most hated people in Nigeria.
He said, “What used to cause farmers/herders clash was due to laying of claims to ownership of land because after the herders have penetrated thick forests and cleared the ways, the farmers would turn round to claim the areas.
"So, it resulted to clashes between them. But nowadays, there are no farmers/herders clashes. What we have now is communal clashes going on everywhere. Unfortunately, Fulani is the most hated people in Nigeria despite their desire to live in peace with everybody.
“You cannot hate Fulani because we are hard-working people. We provide milk for the country, we provide meat for the country, and even the shoes you are wearing are made of cow’s skins. Yet we are being frustrated.
”Those causing kidnapping and banditry are not foreign Fulani. If you say they are foreign Fulani, you are implicating Nigeria because the Niger Republic or Burkina Faso and any other neighbouring countries will say you are accusing them unnecessarily. They will hate Nigeria, and you are implicating the country.
“The Fulani in Nigeria are the most populous in Northern Nigeria. So, if you say there are foreign Fulani in Nigeria, how do you confirm they are foreigners. It is very easy and simple to identify a Fulani man.
“But to us, any Fulani man you see with cattle, he is of benefit to Nigeria, he is not a foreigner. If we continue to call them foreigners, we are telling the rest of the world that they are criminals. We are implicating Nigeria.
”This is very unfortunate. Well, if you insist that they are foreigners, you have to identify them. After all Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa are foreigners, everybody comes from somewhere. The world started from somewhere.
“But if you keep on saying they are foreigners, you are encouraging them to come to Nigeria to join in the fight. When you keep on blackmailing them as foreigners they will come to Nigeria to help Fulani in Nigeria to fight.”
Salisu also spoke on the agitations for secession and self-determination in some parts of the country.
According to him, when such republics are created, there will be no peace in Nigeria because there will be fights over land.
He, however, said if Nigeria finally breaks up, Fulani people will survive.
“When such republics are created, we will not want to see one another because we were once together as brothers and now you don’t want to see me. They will even fight each other over land because there will not be enough land for them.
”And whenever they want to travel to any part of the world they must pass through Nigeria. But if they want to separate, let them go. We the Fulani people will survive if the country breaks up because we are the most populous in the North. We are the pioneer rulers of northern Nigeria. All the northern rulers are Fulani from inception.”