One of the umbrella bodies of herdsmen in Nigeria, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, says herders won’t support any southern candidate who is against open grazing should he or she run for president in 2023.
Spokesman for the group, Saleh Alhassan, spoke on Tuesday while featuring on PUNCH Online interview programme.
The 17 Southern Governors, citing security challenges, allegedly posed by the activities of herders in their states, had kicked against open grazing and signed laws banning such to effect.
Most southern governors; including those of Lagos, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Abia, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, and just recently, Delta and Ogun states, have signed the anti-open grazing bill into law.
The Miyetti Allah group, while reacting to the passage of the law in the southern states, described it as ‘satanic’ and ‘politically motivated,’ adding that it would sue the governors over the law.
Alhassan also alleged that the move by the southern governors was to negotiate the 2023 Presidency with their 19 northern colleagues who have kicked against power shift to the South.
As the 2023 general elections draw nearer, there have been intense political posturing, permutations and fireworks. The 17 Southern Governors had met twice in the year and demanded power shift to their region while the 19 Northern Governors also met last week, opposing such move and noting that the candidate with the highest votes will emerge as President in the next general elections.
However, speaking on Tuesday, the Miyetti Allah spokesman said his group won’t support southern governors or any southern candidate who is against open grazing and who also oppose the collection of Value Added Tax by the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
Asked whether his group would back a northern candidate after the expiration of the eight-year regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Alhassan said, “Our concern is not where the President comes from but certainly we know those that we cannot support; those that want to destroy our means of livelihood, we would campaign against them.
“We are not worried where the President comes from but we need a competent nationalistic person to take over from Buhari. We don’t need people with sectional sentiments; people that think they can make exclusive economic policies, people that think their zones should have more preference, they want to control the VAT, destroy our traditional livelihood.
“The governors can say anything but ultimately, the votes determine who becomes the President. If you say you are producing (Ondo State Governor and Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum, Rotimi) Akeredolu as a southern candidate, we would never support him because he is championing the destruction of our rural economy. People like that, we would never support them. We won’t support someone hobnobbing with Biafrans.”
Furthermore, the Miyetti Allah group said there was nothing wrong with the Federal Government backing up its intention to challenge the anti-open grazing laws signed into law by the southern governors.
The Federal Government on Sunday threw its weight behind moves by herdsmen to sue southern governors over the anti-open grazing bill they recently signed into law.
Umar Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, had said: “The rights trampled upon are individual rights of Nigerians as constitutionally guaranteed. The Nigerians whose rights are violated reserve the right to approach the court for the protection of such rights within the context of freedom of movement among others. It will be viewed with that consideration in mind.”
Reacting on Tuesday, Alhassan said, “There is nothing that is not supported by the government, especially agriculture; billions are being given to smallholder farmers in the rice value chain, in maize. So, there is nothing wrong in them (FG) supporting us.”