- Says dialogue remains an important tool under President Buhari
The Nigeria Presidency has defended its move to engage the assistance of Miyetti Allah, adding that the association should be respected.
In a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President Mr Garba Shehu, the statement referred to the position of the Afenifere and Ohaneze Ndigbo on the development.
The federal government claimed that the point raised by both groups, challenging the government moves to engage Miyetti Allah, translate to the major ethnic problem the country is currently struggling with.
Mr Garba said “We are pleased that Afenifere and Ohaneze Ndigbo found our insights worthy of attention even when they disagreed with our view that they, as socio-cultural associations, represent same interests as Miyetti Allah, an association of Fulani herders.
“The point both socio-cultural groups missed, however, by insisting that government should not to talk to Miyetti Allah is the need to address and engage Nigeria’s ethnic, religious, cultural and economic plurality that was evident when General Yakubu Gowon introduced National Youth Service Corps, NYSC. The need to engage all groups of Nigeria is as much relevant today as it was then.
“The Presidency’s position is that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is equipped to address these issues. The security challenges faced by Nigeria today make the task of addressing the issues very urgent.
“Miyetti Allah, like any other trade, community, ethnic organization or interest group is a legal stakeholder in our nation and should be respected.
“We maintain that the government needs to engage all stakeholders and seek partnership in building our country.”
The Presidency argued that the activities of the Miyetti Allah does not only benefit the Muslims and Fulani Herdsmen but Nigeria in general.
“The activities of Miyetti Allah do not benefit selected ethnicities or Muslims only, but everyone. Long before petroleum became the core of the Nigerian economy, agriculture was the main source of Nigerian wealth. Cattle, hides, and skin were a major part of Nigerian export.
“It is right to state that there are criminals among every group in Nigeria and in every country. There are criminals among the northern population as there are in the southern part of the country. It is not good to generalise blames. The government will engage each stakeholder and create dialogue between, and among, different groups.”
There has been a speculation on social media that the federal government has given the Miyetti Allah a N100bn to negotiate its seized fire on kidnapping and other crime related events in the country.
The Ohaneze Ndigbo had condemned the claim, describing it as dubious.
Reacting, Mr Garba on Channels TV described it as “absolute falsehood”. He argued that there was no money involved in the meeting between the Federal government and the Miyetti Allah, “If they had raised it, this government would have dismissed them as yet another dubious group, like the many making claims to be representing our trusting people but serving their own interests.” he added.
“We choose again to speak on this because it is dangerous for the public to ignore rumours aimed at inciting people against each other or against the government. The people spreading such rumours should be helped to see the truth and participate in nation building, and not become crisis messengers.
!As the President has stated time and again, transparency and dialogue are essential for public enlightenment and nation-building.”