From RAY EJIKEME, Enugu
Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria in the South East has denied interest in anything outside business in the region, saying its members were neither interested in politics nor in acquisition of “lands for territorial expansion” in the region, as has been widely speculated.
Briefing journalists shortly after a meeting of the joint executive council of the group in Enugu yesterday, Chairman of MACBAN in the South East, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki said the clarification became necessary against the backdrop of growing suspicion of the activities of herders in Igbo land.
Siddiki explained that the suspicion that herdsmen were agents of Fulani territorial expansionism had degenerated into unhealthy relationships between them and host communities in most parts of the region, adding that such suspicion had made members increasingly uncomfortable and edgy.
“This suspicion is rooted in the speculation that herdsmen are harbingers of Fulani territorial expansionism,” he noted. “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 better understanding between our members and their host communities.”
Saying that his group would not hesitate to report any of its members found to be involved in criminal activities, Siddiki called on governments of the South-East States to ensure the protection of the association’s members and cattle, adding that herders in the area would be made to take precautionary measures while grazing their cattle.
While stating that MACBAN recognised that the challenges the herders were faced with in the region were not peculiar to the zone, even as there were bound to be conflicts between people of diverse cultural orientations, Siddiki, however, said it was time to sort out the differences.
Said the MACBAN leader: “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.”
Describing the people of the South-East as good, Siddiki assured that MACBAN would not do anything to create tension in the area.