Kaduna-based Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Ahmad Gumi, has said bandits are ready to lay down their arms if educational opportunities and other basic amenities are provided for Fulani herdsmen at the grassroots.
Gumi who fielded questions from newsmen when he inspected the Sheikh Uthman Bin Fodio Centre at Kagarko Grazing Reserve, Kohoto Village, donated by Mosque Foundation Limited, said he had discovered that education is a better way of tackling banditry.
He said, “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 perpetrator is 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 grassroots 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 ensure that we are directed across the forest to know how we can cater for nomadic, it doesn’t cost much and it will help to educate them and we will live peacefully with them,”he said.
Gumi said the centre has schools, hospital and a facility where they are shown how to grind the foliage to feed their animals, adding that some of them don’t need to go out because those things are cheap and farmers are throwing them away.
He said soon the farmers will start charging for them, adding that “if we can replicate this everywhere, Nigerians will live in peace.”
On whether or not he said Nigeria will no longer exist if bandits are declared as terrorists, Gumi said, “It is a quotation out of contest. 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.”
According to him, “99 per cent of the herdsmen are not into banditry but if you turn it into a religious struggle they will go there committing crime, so it is not good to level them as terrorist because it will profile all herdsmen as terrorist because you are attaching it to herdsmen, you are not attaching it to an organization and if you say herdsmen are terrorist Nigeria will have problem , the whole course will be on fire, the north south and east will be on fire and nothing will remain of Nigeria if everywhere is on fire.”
Earlier while addressing the community, Gumi said 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.
The multi-million naira centre is solely funded by Gumi while the land was donated by the Sarki of Kagarko.