Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday August 3, called on Nigerians to stop the blame game on banditry after meeting with Fulani leaders in the Southwest region including Kogi and Kwara States in Ogun State’s capital Abeokuta.
The former Nigerian President invited the Fulani leaders for a conversation on the challenges facing the nation. It was agreed at the meeting that those committing the crimes of kidnapping and banditry are both Fulanis/non-Fulanis and Nigerians should begin to do things in a new way bring to them out for sanctions.
The communique reads;
1. As part of his efforts to understand and facilitate the mitigation of the insecurity and criminality that is pervading the South West states and Nigeria in general, former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, invited Fulani community leaders from the South West States of Nigeria, Kwara and Kogi States for a conversation on the challenges facing the nation, under the auspices of the Gan Allah Fulani Development Association.
2. In setting the background for the conversation the following were established
a. Participants agreed that WE ALL HAVE a problem as indeed the entire country. The problem is bothered on criminality and insecurity.
b. It is critical for us as a people to start talking to each other with a view to find the practical solutions to deal with the challenges.
c. One of the problems worrying the society is the problem of cover-ups and denials by both community and public institutional leadership that ought to expose these problems and deal with them
d. Stigmatization and victimization of a group of people, in this case the Fulani is of grave concern. The Fulani have both good and bad people. The action of bad Fulani should not be taken against all the Fulani.
e. It was noted that there are Fulani in other regions of West Africa that have problems in Senegal, Guinea Conakry, Mali and even Republic of Niger.
f. There appears to be complacency among some public institutions such as the security and judiciary, where reported cases are not taken seriously and dealt with justly and promptly.
g. There is no tribe in all of Africa that cuts across West and Central Africa like the Fulani. Their strategic position can be explored.
h. Fulani are also victims of kidnapping, banditry, cattle rustling and loss of property etc 3. In conclusion, the meeting resolved as follows;
a. There has to be a deliberate community effort to address the problems. Joint Community Responsibility MUST be established among the Yoruba and Fulani leaders at the community levels.
b. From all the evidence, those who perpetrate these crimes, there are both non-Fulani and Fulani. We should begin to do things differently and in a new way bring them out for sanctions.
c. It is important to call on leaders who failed to do what they are supposed to do. Fulani who know the criminals among them must expose and report them to the appropriate institution. So must other ethnic groups.
d. There should be cooperation among our people groups. Fulani leaders and other groups are urged to approach traditional institutions anytime they find some thing that is not right within their communities. They should refer concerns among themselves to the different levels of traditional leadership up to the paramount traditional rulers.
e. Identified criminals within community should be handed over to the appropriate agency to be dealt with. Key stakeholders should be informed to ensure that justice or sanctions are carried out against culprits and not swept under the carpet.
f. There are Fulani who are born in the South West 3rd, 4th or even 5th generation who see themselves as children of Oduduwa, and who have nowhere to go except Oduduwa land. There are other tribes who feel so in Yorubaland, and there are Yorubas who feel so in other geo-political regions of Nigeria. So the idea of moving tribal groups en masse from one geo political region to another is inpracticable and should not be talked about by leaders.
g. We have to work as one community through our various efforts and responsibilities to protect and safeguard the interest of the community.
h. Presently, the Oyo State House of Assembly has a bill proposed on the open grazing that has passed the 1st and 2nd reading. Government should address the idea of Settled Grazing before full implementation of zero grazing.
i. Criminal Fulani herdsman and non-herdsmen must be identified, exposed and brought to book, to serve as a deterrent to others. There must be punishment for lawbreakers. The same must apply to other criminals from other ethnic groups.
j. Participants agreed to meet within three months to review the progress of implementation of the recommendations