Presidency defends comparing Miyetti Allah to Afenifere, Ohaneze

President Muhammadu Buhari makes his acceptance speech during presentation of Certificate-of-Return to him as winner of 2019 Presidential election, by Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu (L), at the International Conference Centre in Abuja on Wednesday (27/2/19). 01783/27/2/2019/Callistus Ewelike/HB/BJO/NAN Centre in Abuja on Wednesday (27/2/19). 01782/27/2/2019/Callistus Ewelike/HB/BJO/NAN
President Muhammadu Buhari

The Presidency has reacted to a controversy that followed its spokesperson’s comment likening the group, Miyetti Allah, to Afenifere and Ohaneze Ndigbo.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, had said that the herders’ group should not be criminalised and should be seen by Nigerians like the socio-cultural groups, Afenifere and Ohaneze Ndigbo.

He said this on Thursday on Channels TV, according to The Cable.

In their separate reactions, the groups condemned Mr Garba’s comments and criticised the Buhari administration’s decision to dialogue with Miyetti Allah, an organisation many accuse of violence and criminality in parts of country.

“There is no justification for such a comparison. It is a bad comparison,” Uche Achi-Okpaga, spokesperson of Ohaneze, was quoted by The Cable as saying Thursday.

“You can never put Ohanaeze and Miyetti Allah on the same pedestal. These people are invading villages, killing people, and you are telling us that they are on the same page with Ohanaeze. There is no justification for that.

“This is an organisation that the Global Terrorist Index has described as the world’s fourth deadly terrorist organisation.

“These people are just negotiating with criminals. We are in a state of lawlessness.”

The paper also quoted Yinka Odumakin, spokesperson of Afenifere, as also describing the comparison as “most unfair and very unfortunate.”

“We are surprised that the spokesperson was talking like someone under the influence of drugs. In Afenifere, we don’t kill, we don’t abduct people,” he said.

“How can you compare us to a group of people who have been killing in Enugu, Benue, Ogun and other states?”

In its response Friday, the Presidency said “Miyetti Allah, like any other trade, community, ethnic organization or interest group is a legal stake holder in our nation and should be respected.”

It said the government will contiunue to engage with different groups as necessary, including the Miyetti Allah.

“The activities of Miyetti Allah do not benefit selected ethnicities or Muslims only, but everyone. Long before petroleum became the core of Nigerian economy, agriculture was the main source of Nigerian wealth. Cattle, hides and skin were a major part of Nigerian export,” the statement by Mr Garba said.

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.

Read the full statement below:

UNDER PRESIDENT BUHARI, DIALOGUE REMAINS AN IMPORTANT TOOL

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 stake holder 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 activities of Miyetti Allah do not benefit selected ethnicities or Muslims only, but everyone. Long before petroleum became the core of 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.

We note the statement by Ohaneze this morning, who expressed concern about an allegation that government gave N100 billion to Miyetti Allah for dubious reasons. As I said on Channels TV, it is an absolute falsehood. The issue of money was never raised at any of the meetings between the representatives of government and 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.

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.

Garba Shehu

Senior Special Assistant to the President

(Media & Publicity)

May 10, 2019

Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility

 

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.

Donate


NEVER MISS A THING AGAIN! Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

DOWNLOAD THE PREMIUM TIMES MOBILE APP

Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

TEXT AD: This space is available for a Text_Ad.. Call Willie on +2347088095401 for more information


All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.