A Kaduna based Islamic cleric, Sheikh (Dr.) Ahmad Gumi, has disclosed that the present insecurity in the country particularly banditry can become a thing of the past as bandits are ready to drop their arms if education opportunities and other basic amenities can be provided for Fulani herdsmen.
Gumi disclosed this while fielding questions from journalists during an inspection visit to the Sheikh Uthman Bin Fodio Centre at Kagarko Grazing Reserve in Kohoto village, donated by Mosque Foundation Limited.
According to the cleric, “what motivated me to start this project was to solve the insecurity problem we have from the root because every crime has its perpetrators and every perpetrators are drawn from a pool, so we want to go there and dry the pool and we found out that education is the best cure.
“If they are educated, they will not be doing what they are doing, so we say we must take education to the grassroot and we embarked on the project to also be an example for others, local government, state and federal and rich individuals even cooperative societies to come together and make sure that we are directed across the forest to know what we can carter for nomads, it doesn’t cost much very little and it will help to educate them and we will live peacefully with them.
“What we have here is a centre containing six classrooms that can be used for primary, secondary schools and at various times you can teach all categories at all times and the place will be engaged for 24 hours because the herdsmen usually takes their cattle out by 10am and bring them back by dawn or sunset, so they have two hours before they take their cattle away and we have two to three hours because we will like to put some solar light so that they can read eight, nine, 10 o’clock in the night so that the herders can go and come back.
“We have schools, we have hospital and also showing them how to grind the foliage which they can use to feed their animals, some of them don’t need to go out because those things are so cheap and farmers are throwing those things away, soon farmers will start charging for it, if we can duplicate this everywhere, Nigerians will live in peace.”
On whether or not he said Nigeria will no longer exist if bandits are declared as terrorists, he said, “It is a quotation out of context, I didn’t say there will be no Nigeria, I said if banditry now has turned into terrorism, fanatical religious terrorism which is there because Islam recognises religious terrorism, so if we allow the herdsmen to turn into religious fanatics and extremists, it will not be good for us as a nation.
“99% of the herdsmen are not into banditry but if you turn it into religious struggle they will just go there committing crime, so it is not good to label them as terrorists because it will profile all herdsmen as terrorists because you are attaching it to herdsmen, you are not attaching it to an organization and if you say herdsmen are terrorists, Nigeria will have problem, the whole country will be on fire, the North, South and East will be on fire and nothing will remain of Nigeria if everywhere is on fire,” Gumi explained.
He added that there is a lot that can be done to improve security in Nigeria such as having a similar centre for education instead of spending billions on hardware, noting that “even the bandits I have spoken with them as I am speaking with you to drop down their weapons to study, so long their women and children will learn, they are ready to drop their weapons, so why won’t we embrace peace?”
Earlier while addressing the community, Dr. Gumi said that though the construction project of the centre is still ongoing, the three tiers of government can come in and partner on training the herdsmen on how they can be economically viable.
“We want Nigerians to know that the herdsman is the most peaceful. For those that have used banditry and criminality to express their grievances, we want them to know that there is another way.
“We call on the three tiers of government, corporate organisations and public spirited individuals to support in bringing development to the grassroots,” he appealed.
In their separate speeches, Fulani Chief of the community, Ardo Ahmed Tahiru, Imam Tafa Dahiru and a Christian cleric in the community, Luka Mai Ungwa, all commended Sheikh Gumi for the gesture, stressing that the project has united the community and they were all full of joy.
On arrival before proceeding to the community, Sheikh Gumi led his entourage to the palace of the Sarki of Kagarko, 98-year-old Malam Sa’ad Abubakar, where the peace advocacy received royal blessings.
Our correspondent, who was part of of entourahe of the Islamic scholar, gathered that the multi-million Naira centre is being solely funded by Sheikh Gumi, while the land on which it is constructed was donated by the Sarki of Kagarko.