Fulani herdsmen organisation, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, has expressed displeasure with the criticisms against the group’s comparison with the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, and the apex Igbo body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
The Presidency had said Miyetti Allah was another group as Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, which was met with backlash, especially from Yoruba leaders.
The Secretary-General of Afenifere, Chief Sehinde Arogbofa, said members of the group carried weapons, killed people and raped women.
Similarly, the Serving Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, described the comparison as shameful, adding that it was even more shameful for the Presidency to exclude the North’s socio-cultural organisation, the Arewa Consultative Forum, from its “illogical comparison.”
The National Secretary, Miyetti Allah, Mr Saleh Alhassan, in an interview with Sunday Punch, however, said the status of the Fulani organisation as a socio-cultural group was not a product of the Presidency’s proclamation.
Alhassan said, “It is a socio-cultural organisation that is representing an economic group and an ethnic group in this country, even beyond what Afenifere and Ohanaeze are pushing because we are an economic group, outside being a socio-cultural group.
“It is not what the Presidency says. The point is it pursuing the legitimate interests of its members? Yes, in this country, nobody (else) speaks for the nomadic people in the villages and bushes.
“All these emirs you have, do they speak for them? No, they don’t. If you don’t have an organisation that says, ‘we are speaking for these people’, how do we get to solve their problems?”
Speaking on the criticisms by Yoruba leaders, Alhassan said Miyetti Allah was a legally recognised organisation.
He said, “That is their perception. I don’t know what they represent. Maybe Ohanaeze can now be the same thing as the Indigenous People of Biafra, all those militant groups or those groups doing agitations. All we know is that we are registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission.
“Our objectives are there and clear. We are not a secret organisation; we are a socio-cultural organisation. I don’t think I want to take issue with either Afenifere or Ohanaeze. Do you hear them, especially Afenifere, apart from when there is politics? Are they playing any significant role?”
On the killings allegedly perpetrated by herders, Alhassan said, “It is contextual. Today, if IPOB is agitating and causing violence, you cannot say all Igbo or Ohanaeze is doing it.
“The issue that you have with Miyetti Allah is that we are faced with the challenge of land resource conflict. Our people are predominantly opportunistic users of land. They are pastoralists that access land resources and you have conflict between the herders and the farmers.”