NEWISSUES Magazine caught up with Sarkin Fulanin Arkilla, Sokoto, Alhaji Nurudeen Dan Fulani, to discuss some of the problems of insecurity in Nigeria, his duty representing his people and how this security imbroglio can be resolved.
By George Onmonya Daniel and Elliot Maiyaki
NEWISSUES: Sir, give us a brief history on how you became Sarkin Fulanin Arkilla.
SFA: My name is Alhaji Nurrudeen Dan Fulani, Sarkin Fulanin Arkilla. I was turbaned on 27th February, 2016, by Uban Doman Arkilla, the District Head of Arkilla, Sokoto State, to represent my people. As the title implies, I am representing Fulani, but as a leader, when you represent your people, you are also saddle with the responsibility of representing every other people justly.
NEWISSUES: Despite crisis in the North West, in places like Zamfara, spilling over to Katsina and environ, Sokoto State has remain relatively peaceful. What did you people as leaders do differently?
SFA: In Sokoto the leaders and the people live together. We know ourselves. We have access to each other. We know each other’s problems and we listen to each other. When there is problem and dispute between people we resolve it amicably. When leadership is honest and people feel they can go to leaders and get justice, you avert conflicts. Wherever there is justice, by the grace of God you will get peace. That’s the logic.
NEWISSUES: Let’s talk about Sokoto Politics a little, the power tussle between Tambuwal’s camp and Wamakko…
SFA: As you know we don’t get involved in politics. It is Allah that gives power and everyone comes to do his own and go. To whom Allah has given power we would cooperate with him.
NEWISSUES: What exactly does the Arkilla Sokoto do?
SFA: We represent our people anywhere. For instance now you talked about crisis, we are the ones who talk to our people and try to resolve issues. We are the ones who go to them again to tell them what would be beneficial to them and explain certain government policies that would benefit them to them and how they can benefit from such. We are the one who represent them, listen to them and take their problems to government.
NEWISSUES: Let’s go to Nigeria now. There has been so many crisis where Fulani are allegedly fingered, from Zamfara to Katsina and some parts of Sokoto, in fact Fulanis are blamed for the banditry situation in the North West. What your take on that?
SFA: The problem is that Fulanis have been neglected for too long. No government in the Nigeria has come to power and looked at the plights of Fulani people. For instance, you hear government encouraging farmers through differently policies to improve them, but you never hear government doing the same or anything for the pastoralist. Then even the grazing routes that was carved out for them to feed their cow was gradually encroached and has been taken over from them. The Fulani man just wants to feed his cattle peacefully and now he cannot do it again. Nowadays Fulani cannot move from one place to another without touching somebody’s farm because all the land that has been reserved for them now have been taken over by politicians or farming activities are going on there. How do you think there wouldn’t be conflict in this situation?
If government want to solve this, there should carve out reservation areas for Fulani where they can move with their herds peacefully. That’s basically what the Fulani man is asking for. Give us where to feed our herds.
NEWISSUES: There is a school of thought on this problem that is of the view that the way to go is ranching, especially the Benue State Government and many others who have said the way herders do their business in Nigeria is no longer in tune with modern ways of doing business.
SFA: Ranching is good. We don’t have problem with ranching. But we are not developed to the level of ranching yet. Our people are not. The other problem is that the structure of how the nomadic Fulani have conducted business for a long time. We operate without borders, we have borders with Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, and the Fulanis from both sides have crossed to graze their herds.
But this is why the we are talking with all stakeholders affected by the problem and the federal government is looking at different ways to resolve the problem so that it can be a win-win for everyone. Right now the government is working on the National Livestock Transformation Plan. We think it’s a good idea. If you look at this whole thing, there is a will to resolve the crisis by this government. I think we would get there.
NEWISSUES: Still on insecurity sir, the banditry problem to be specific, Fulanis have been accused of running the banditry crime enterprise. Some Nigerian Fulanis have accused foreign Fulanis of being responsible. Do you talk to your people on this problem that has dragged the Fulani name into mud?
SFA: The problem is generalizing. Some group of gangster commits crime, instead of call their names, like Abdullahi, Usman, Abubakar, Chinedu, Yemisi or Sunday, everyone call them Fulani. These are very few people constituting nuisance and everyone calls them Fulani. Do you know what that would do to the Fulani psyche? Yes, some of these criminal are Fulanis, but we have criminals everywhere and criminal are just few numbers of people. One cannot just drag a whole ethnic group identity into the mud for the crime of some gangsters. I don’t think there is anybody who want peace like the Fulani man in this country. Without peace can we go about our business? Without peace can the Fulani man rear his animals? Do you think the Fulani man wants his animal to die of hunger? This whole bandit problem has its own politics. If some people commit crime, whoever they are, the security should hunt them down and deal with them. The Fulani people are law abiding people. Have you ever seen a Fulani man defending a criminal because he is Fulani? We don’t do that. If any bandit is arrested they should be prosecuted according to the law of the land. Fulani people don’t defend criminals.
NEWISSUES: Is there hope for peace soon on this complicated conflicts?
SFA: Of course. As long as we keep talking and we keep listening to each other, which we are doing, there will be complete peace. Leadership is about trying as much to resolve problem. We have been talking on different forums and at different levels and addressing the problems. Insha Allah there would be peace. We need to learn to live together. Let me tell you again, the Fulani man is the most peaceful man you can ever meet. We mingle with everybody, go everywhere you will see Fulani. The conflicts is being resolved and we as leaders are talking to our people and our people are talking to us.
NEWISSUES: Thank you sir.
SFA: You are welcome.