Leaders of the Fulani herdsmen residing in Rankum, a Northern Plateau village allegedly sacked, reoccupied and renamed “Mahanga”, Monday told Federal authorities that they have been sidelined in all development programmes in the State.
This is in spite of their large voter population estimated at 2,895 registered voters, Mr. Abdullahi Ibrahim, the Youth Leader of the herders in the community said in a meeting with officials in the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Sustainable Development Goals (OSSAP-SDGs).
According to Ibrahim, “Mahanga is the general name of the area. But we have many smaller communities within it. Rafin Acha village has 1400 registered voters. Janda 1 has 748 voters and Janda 2 has 747 registered voters. Yet, no developmental project has ever reached us.
“We have three nomadic primary schools; Nomadic Primary School Rafin Acha which has 257 pupils, Nomadic Primary School Loya with 307 pupils and Nomadic Primary School Nyelgagare with 336 pupils all funded by the community.
“No Federal or State classroom block exists in Rafin Acha Nomadic Primary School and even our request for Government Teachers has not been replied. In Nomadic Primary School Loya, only one teacher is paid by the government. We hear there are paid teachers posted to the school but they don’t ever come. In Nyelgagare, there is no government paid teacher except the Islamic Religious Knowledge teacher.”
The community in his words has also not benefited any infrastructural project from government.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, the Youth leader said last year donated its only borehole after many years of government ‘neglect’.
“Government has drilled over 700 boreholes in Riyom Local Government Area alone but all were sited in Berom native communities alongside roads and hospitals; none in any Fulani village,” said Ibrahim.
Fulani herdsmen have occupied the renamed Mahanga village for over 200 years, said their community leader, Ardo Muhammadu Adamu at the meeting.
It is not fair that they are treated as strangers, with no political representation or Democratic gains, Adamu told the SDGs Officials.
However, Member Representing Riyom/Barkin Ladi Federal Constituency in the Nigerian House of Representatives, Simon Mwadkon told the meeting that no project has been specifically designed to benefit any section of the constituency.
“To the best of our abilities, we have since election in 2019 only been able to attract Federal interventions in three federal wards which have a fair representation of the Fulani tribe,” he said.
Mwadkon represented by his Chief of Staff, John Chun pledged to investigate the concerns of the Fulani group and find sustainable solutions to them.
Similarly, General Manager, Plateau State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (PRUWASSA), Mr. Peter Kassam told Light Bearer that his office has not drilled up to 700 boreholes in the whole of Plateau, and has not sidelined any community on the basis of tribe, religion or political affiliation.
“Our work is not political but partner-driven. Drillng only in Birom community is not true. Community selections was based on criteria e.g. ODF claim; must have registered wth LGA social department and have community acctounts; must have been triggered and WASHCOM formed. Some communities could not be captured because of security challenges. Some, we awarded but security challenges made it not to be implemented. For some, it is accessibility – topography problem. So there was no delibrate effort to sideline any community in terms of WASH interventions please,” said Kassam in SMS chat.
A representative of the Berom Community, Barr. Solomon Dalyop at the meeting declined to comment on the issues raised by the herder community, insisting that the purpose of the meeting was to resolve the SDGs’ construction of a Primary school in Rankum, the native community “annexed” and renamed Mahanga, and branding it after a Fulani leader, “Ardo Mamuda Primary School, Mahanga”.
This is “legitimizing land grab,” says a petition by the Jol Community Development Association which Barr. Dalyop represented at the meeting.
For more robust deliberations, the legal professional sought for the adjournment of the meeting to a later date with all officials and stakeholders connected to the identified issues present.
The Secretary to OSSAP-SDGs and Chairman of the meeting, Mr. Danjuma Dauda approved the adjournment but requested that the two parties hold separate deliberations to produce unified positions through their representatives alongside the member Representing Barkin Ladi/Riyom Federal Constituency, Simon Mwadkon, instead of an enlarged meeting.
A representative of Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Mr. Shehu Hassan applauded the “peaceful” approach taken by both Berom and Fulani communities in resolving the disputed construction and naming of the school, encouraging more of such for development to thrive.