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South & Middle Belt leaders reject FG’s proposed radio station for Fulani herdsmen

Valentine Chinyem

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The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has opposed the plans of the Federal government to set up a radio station which will broadcast in Fulfulde language.

In a statement signed by Yinka Odumakin (South West), Prof Chigozie Ogbu (South East), Senator Bassey Henahaw (South South) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt, the forum said that it fears that the proposed radio will become “a weapon of spreading hate propaganda against other nationalities in Nigeria.”

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, recently confirmed the acquisition of a radio license in Abuja, and said the radio service will operate on frequency of 720KHz, and will strictly broadcast in Fulfulde language. He disclosed that plans are underway to secure funds for the procurement and installation of requisite transmission equipment for the successful take-off of the radio station.

He added that the station is part of the peace-building efforts of the government in addressing herders-farmers conflict. The Executive Secretary, National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE), Prof. Bashir Usman, explained that some veteran Hausa broadcasters had been contacted to develop programmes for the station.

Reacting to the announcement, the forum said: “We received with rude shock the in-your-face impunity of the Buhari-led government’s 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 Fulani herdsmen by twisting the correct interpretation of the groups ‘activities by President Olusegun Obasanjo as an attempt to ‘Fulanise’ Nigeria.

“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 by 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 the 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.”