Less than two days after the Federal Government disclosed that it has acquired an Amplitude Modulation (AM) radio broadcast licence to reach herdsmen across the country, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has faulted the decision, saying the Federal Government is planning to turn the country into Fulani Government of Nigeria (FGN).
In a statement jointly signed by Yinka Odumakin, Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, Senator Bassey Henshaw and Dr. Isuwa Dogo, the forum noted that the move was ill-advised, and asked if the government would also establish similar radio stations for other languages in the country, saying the action was totally insensitive.
Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education, had confirmed the acquisition of the licence during an interview with newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, disclosing that the decision of the government was a measure to enhance nomadic education, adding that it was to end the perennial farmers-herders crisis across the country.
However, the forum described the move as an indictment on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
THE STATEMENT READS, “THE SOUTHERN AND MIDDLE BELT LEADERS FORUM RECEIVED WITH RUDE SHOCK THE IN-YOUR-FACE IMPUNITY OF THE BUHARI-LED GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT OF PLAN TO SET UP AN AM RADIO STATION FOR FULANI HERDSMEN TO BROADCAST IN FULFUDE.
“THE ANNOUNCEMENT CAME AT A TIME THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN ACTING AS THE INFORMATION ARM OF BOKO HARAM AND FULANI HERDSMEN BY DISSING THE CORRECT INTERPRETATION OF THE GROUPS’ ACTIVITIES BY FORMER PRESIDENT OLUSEGUN OBASANJO AS AN ATTEMPT TO ‘FULANISE’ NIGERIA”.
While rejecting the proposal, the forum said it smacks of hypocrisy and deception that the Federal Government which has denied responsibility on behalf of the herdsmen is now contemplating setting up a radio station for them.
It said the radio will be used by the herdsmen to spread hate propaganda.
“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. 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”.