Northern Elders, Forum, NEF, has asked the federal and state governments to escalate measures to halt what it described as the harassment of the Fulani and their cattle.
It also urged them to de-escalate inciting rhetorics regarding the now-suspended Ruga Project designed for the settlement of herders across the country.
NEF made the call in a statement yesterday by its Deputy Convener, Amb. Yahaya Kwande.
The Forum asked the country to remain sensitive to its rising deficits in security of lives and economic assets.
The statement read, “Federal and State governments must adopt policies and positions which address the harassment of Fulani and their cattle, de-escalation of inciting rhetorics and actions and short and long-term solutions to the problems which could damage the livestock industry, worsen community relations and threaten national security.
“The nation should remain sensitive to its rising deficits insecurity of lives and economic assets, and must do everything possible not to escalate tensions and distrust among Nigerians.”
The Forum also said it had taken note of the diverse positions adduced by groups and interests from the South and those from Northern Nigeria.
In particular, NEF said it had taken note of the representations made at a Press Conference held by the Coalition of Northern Groups on the latest developments related to the failure to find solutions to the problems related to management of the livestock assets of Nigerians, particularly cattle of the Fulani.
While the Forum said it had also taken due notice of the intense reactions which the statement by the Coalition generated across the country, it added that it has been contacted by a broad spectrum of interests and opinions to use its position to calm nerves and assist in the search for a practical and fair resolution of the situation.
NEF also acknowledged that the Northern Governors’ Forum Chairman, Simon Lalong, has also made similar overture to its leadership and a meeting has been fixed for next week.
“In consideration of the appeals of many well-meaning leaders and Nigerians including the Forum of Northern Governors, and in the exercise of its responsibility as the platform of Northern Elders, the NEF advises the Coalition of Northern Groups to exercise responsible restraint and take no further action in view of the potentially productive involvement of Northern governors and other respected Nigerians.
“Most Nigerians recognize the genuine grounds for raising serious grievances in the light of provocations and apparent lack of sensitivity to a matter that affects the North and indeed the rest of Nigeria in a most critical manner.
“Northern Governors’ concerns and commitment to finding solutions to a problem which is not being adequately addressed and one which has the potential to create additional security and economic problems for the nation is welcome. NEF will engage with the Forum and the Coalition and any Nigerian who seeks genuine solutions to the problems being faced by Northern Communities and the livestock industry.
“Finally, as we urge the northerners to heed the call for restraint made by the Coalition earlier pending the outcome of the meetings with the Northern Governors when NEF shall come out with a definite position on the matter,” NEF added.