The South-East chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has explained that its members are only in the Southeast geopolitical zone for purely economic pursuit and nothing more.
The Chairman of MACBAN in the zone, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, stated this on Monday while briefing journalists shortly after a meeting of the joint executive council of the group in Enugu.
According to Siddiki, the clarification became necessary following growing suspicion and speculation in some quarters about the activities of herders in the zone, adding that it was imperative to correct the impression that their interests in the region were beyond economic pursuits.
He also explained that the suspicion that herdsmen were harbingers of Fulani territorial expansionism had degenerated into unhealthy relationships in most parts of the region, adding that such suspicion had made members of the association to be increasingly uncomfortable.
The Southeast MACBAN chairman also expressed the desire of herders in the region to strike harmonious relationships with the people of the area in order to avoid mutual suspicion.
Siddiki said: “This suspicion is rooted in the speculation that herdsmen are harbingers of Fulani territorial expansionism.
“However, the leadership of MACBAN, under my watch in the South-East, has continued to discuss appreciably well with the individual state governments in the zone.
“I am happy that the dialogue gives us hope for better understanding between our members and their host communities.”
He said the group would not hesitate to report any of its members found to be involved in criminal activities, while also calling on the governments of the South-East states to ensure the protection of the body’s members and cattle.
He promised that herders in the area would be made to take precautionary measures while plying their trade.
According to him, MACBAN recognises that the challenges the herders were faced with in the region were not peculiar to the zone, adding that there were bound to be conflicts between people of diverse cultural orientations.
He however, said it was time to sort out the differences.
“We, hereby, jointly resolve to fully lend our efforts toward fostering an enduring and harmonious relationship with our host communities.
“We urge members of our host communities to be more accommodating too”, he said.