Radio For Fulani Herdsmen: Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Blast FG …Says Move Shocking, Unacceptable …Militants Threaten To Declare N’Delta Republic, June

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike (2nd left),with Senator-elect, Dr Sandy Onoh ( Central Senatorial District, Cross River State) (2nd right), Salim Salim of SPG (left) and others, at the Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt, yesterday.

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has opposed the plan by the Federal Government to set up a radio station for herdsmen.
A statement, yesterday, signed by Yinka Odumakin (South-West), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South), Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle-Belt) and Prof Chigozie Ogbu (South-East) said it received the news with rude shock.
It said the announcement came at a time the Federal Government had been acting as the information arm of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen by dicing the correct interpretation of the groups’ activities by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as an attempt to “Fulanise” Nigeria.
“We totally reject this insensitive decision of the government on the following fundamental grounds:
“It smacks of hypocrisy and deception for a government that has in the last four years denied responsibility on behalf of the Fulani herdsmen for crimes they even owned up to, to now tell us it wants to set up a radio for them to address the same issues.
“Section 55 of the 1999 Constitution recognises English, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo as Languages in which the official business of the National Assembly can be conducted. There was no mention of Fulani which is not a language most northerners even understand.
“Why its sudden promotion to a language the Federal Government will set up a radio to promote? Will it also set up radio stations for the officially recognised languages and the over 250 languages spoken in different parts of Nigeria?
“We fear seriously that the proposed radio will become a weapon of spreading hate propaganda against other nationalities in Nigeria given the kid gloves treatment with which the Buhari administration has handled the killings of thousands of Nigerians in the last four years.
“We are guided the genocide-aiding role radio played in inciting ordinary citizens to take part in the massacre of Tutsis and moderate Hutus during the Rwandan Genocide. From 1993 to late 1994, RTLM was used by Hutu leaders to propagate an extremist Hutu message and anti-Tusti disinformation by identifying specific targets and areas where they could be found and encouraging progress of the genocide.
An estimated 7,000 Nigerians died between 2015 and 2019 in the persistent violence between farmers and pastoralists in the middle belt states of Benue and Nasarawa, a report funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has said.
Titled ”Engaging Communities for Peace in Nigeria (ECPN),” the report also said the violence has cost the Nigerian economy $13 billion a year over the past five years.
An international non-governmental organisation, Mercy Corps, conducted the study across the states and wrote the report.
The group said the study was aimed at preventing violent conflict between farmer and herders in the middle belt states. The report was presented at Bon Elvis Hotels yesterday in Abuja.
The presentation was witnessed by the paramount ruler of the Tiv, Tor Tiv James Ayatse; the Country Director, Mercy Corps, Darius Radcliffe; USAID Mission Director, Stephen Haykin, represented by USAID country Democracy Officer, Beatrice Reaud , and other community leaders from Benue and Nasarawa states.
The report said a programme of interventions in the middle belt states by Mercy Corps had helped to reduce conflict in the area by 13 per cent.
The report said trained participants in the programme succeeded in resolving1932 inter and the intra-community disputes.
According to the report, over 600 disputes over grazing routes, seasonal access to water points, crop damage, cutting down of economic trees, water pollution by animals, and commerce were addressed peacefully in the communities where ECPN worked.
“Peace and reconciliation lie at the heart of USAID’s global approach to promoting stability and security in conflict-affected areas,” Mrs Reaud, said at the closing event.
“The United States and Nigeria share the objective of reducing violence in the Middle Belt states by peacefully preventing and resolving farmer-pastoralist conflicts.
“We must look beyond the help that Mercy Corps through USAID has given us,” she said.
“We are grateful for the assistance, but [its ideas] must be repackaged an implemented under another name.
“If we don’t change our ways, these problems will continue to hurt us, and it is the poor and downtrodden who suffer most. If you engage in fighting, even if you win, you lose something.”
“In 1994, Rwanda Radio began to advance the same message by issuing directives on where to kill Tutsis and congratulating those who had already taken part.
“Using the instrumentality of the Federal Government to set up a radio for Fulani herdsmen will throw a knife at the tiniest of the threads still holding Nigeria together as all illusions of an inclusive country would be removed and the rest of the country would conclude we are now under Fulani Government of Nigeria.
“We, therefore, demand that the Federal Government should perish the thought of a Fulani radio sponsored by government if it cares in any form about the corporate existence of the country,” they said.
Meanwhile, a militant group, Network of Niger Delta Republic Fighters, has threatened to declare a Niger Delta Republic on June 1, 2019.
In a statement, the group said they were not happy with the situation in Nigeria.
The statement by the Director of Information of the group, Maxwell Dan, alleged selective maltreatment of the people of the region by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
It listed police invasion of the residence of a Niger Delta leader, Chief Edwin Clark, last year, and current ordeal of the ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, as part of the selective maltreatment of Niger Delta people.
The statement read, “It is quite unfortunate that the story has not changed till today, and we are standing on that declaration; we are standing on the declaration of the sovereign state of Niger Delta, and we will declare Niger Delta Republic on June 1, 2019.
“It is a common fact that Nigeria has completely derailed from the path of peace, justice and progress as proclaimed by its founding fathers.”
It added, “As that could not pay off, they removed a Niger Delta son, Mr Mathew Seiyeifa, the most qualified director of DSS without any due process. Not satisfied with his cruel and selective onslaught against the Niger Delta people, they plotted again and removed our son, Justice Walter Onnoghen from office on frivolous allegations without following due process, neither was he given an opportunity of fair hearing.
“It is also unfortunate that after four years of this administration, there is no single viable project executed by the Federal Government in Niger Delta despite the billions of Naira accruing to the government from the resources of the Niger Delta as a result of the ceasefire in the region.”
The group also decried killings in the country; lamenting that government had not been able to protect its citizens.