The move by the Federal Government to establish a radio station to reach Fulani herdsmen has elicited some strong reactions.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said on Wednesday that the Federal Government had acquired an Amplitude Modulation broadcast radio licence, frequency 720KHz, for herdsmen as part of efforts to end the perennial farmers-herders clashes.
“The radio service will serve as a vehicle for social mobilisation and education, in addition to interactive radio instruction methodology that will be adopted to reach the very hard-to-reach segment of our target population,” he noted.
Reacting to the development of the announcement, the Christian Association of Nigeria faulted the move, while the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, on the other hand, described the initiative as a welcome development.
But speaking to one of our correspondents on Friday, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, a Fulani socio-cultural association, described the initiative as a “positive” step in the right direction.
The Secretary-General of the group, Mr Saleh Alhassan, said information dissemination was crucial if the lingering crisis between farmers and herders was to be resolved.
He said, “This is a good development that we support, because if we stand any chance of transforming the livestock development sector, we should educate the major players in the sector – the herders.
“Anybody that is against it (radio) is either mischievous or is very ignorant of the purpose.
“Why must people talk anytime government says it wants to do anything for herders? In spite of the fact that we provide 90 per cent of the animal protein in this country, aside from milk and other animal products, what have we benefited from the government?
“Now that the government wants to pass across constructive information to improve our lives and sensitise our people, having identified that there is a problem in reaching them, should that now be a problem? You can neither reach them via television or newspapers, so what can you do? There is nothing sinister about it; it will be controlled by the government.”
Alhassan said the radio would “definitely” help to reduce the clashes, but that to end the clashes, “we must have effective land resource management in this country”.
In its reaction, the Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, described the proposed radio station as a plan to foist Fulani and Islamic agenda on all Nigerians.
In an interview with newsmen on Friday, spokesman for the group, Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, said, “You have the Voice of Nigeria; it transmits in Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. You have Radio Nigeria; there are programmes in Hausa, Fulani and many languages. You have other state-owned radio stations that have programmes in different languages. What do they mean by a Fulani radio station?
“You have Biafra Radio but you are clipping their wings and looking for them everywhere. You said IPOB wants to overthrow the President with flags but Fulani herdsmen are attacking villages, killing people and nobody is going after them.”
He added, “The water that is passing under the bridge depicts clearly that promoting an Islamic agenda is the intention; that is the proper Islamisation that they are saying.”
Also, the President General, Mdzough U Tiv, a socio-cultural group in Benue State, which comprises of Mdzough U Tiv, Idoma National Forum and OM’igede, Chief Edward Ujege, condemned the move.
He alleged that the Federal Government had shown disdain for minority groups in the country.
He said, “Does Nigeria need any radio station now when all the states own radio stations. If you insist on having a particular programme for a particular group of people, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria is there.
“It is criminal for the Federal Government to use public funds anyhow. For us in the minority groups we align with what former President Olusegun Obasanjo said.”
However, a former Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Army, Brig Gen Idada Ikponmwen, said the proposed radio station was ill-advised and divisive since the government had said the herdsmen terrorising farmers were not Nigerians.
The retired general said, “The President must be told point-blank that it is a wrong measure to start a radio station for only Fulani. How can that measure be in consonance with promoting a cohesive, united and progressive Nigeria?”
On insecurity in the country, he said there had been a gradual deterioration of security right from the Olusegun Obasanjo government.
He said, “It’s not the making of this government alone, but nobody can deny that the government has failed to make the welfare and security of the people its primary purpose; Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder.”