By Akanimo Sampson
The obviously notorious herdsmen are currently busy making a big political statement in Kogi State just as Christians are busy watching political developments in the state from the sidelines.
The herders group, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has said that they are with Governor Yahaya Bello who is seeking re-election in the coming November 16 Governorship election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The National Organising Secretary of the group, Aliyu Saleh, who made the declaration at a news conference in Lokoja, the state capital, directed all Fulani in the state to immediately embark on Ruga-to-Ruga campaign for the re-election of Bello.
But the state wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has not endorsed any candidate or party for the governorship election. CAN Chairman, Dr John Ibenu, made this known at an Extra-Ordinary Extended Exco Meeting of the group in Lokoja, against the backdrop of claims that the Christian body has endorsed Governor Bello.
According to him, ‘’CAN is a spiritual and religious organisation and not a political organisation. All our members belong to as many political parties of their choice and they are free to do so. CAN is a father body to all political parties, and so cannot and should not adopt any political party in any election (unless it is compelled to do so and must be the decision of an emergency plenary).
‘’CAN has not adopted any candidate, every member is encouraged to join the political party of his or her choice. CAN is open to all’’, stressing that any political party that needed and demanded the support of CAN members must be committed to the fear of God; ensure peace and unity of polity; justice, equity and fairness to all.
While saying that such parties and aspirants must address issues of workers and general welfare of the people, ensure security of lives and property from evil men, he emphasised that they must be aspirants that supported the interest of Christianity, equality and freedom of worship, address issues of job creation, youths and women empowerment.
Continuing, he said, ‘’all parties’ flag bearers as they emerge, must shun religious, ethnic, class and nepotic tendencies or bigotry while urging all citizens to be law abiding as they go about their civic duties. We are open to pray for, counsel and receiving any political party that needs our attention.
‘’We call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), politicians, security agencies and all stakeholders to ensure that the election is free, fair, and credible. Remember that God will bring all our actions to judgment sooner or later’’, and accordingly enjoined all Christians to commence prayers in earnest on daily basis and during every public worship for a peaceful election.
In the mean time, Saleh said that the herders group decided to support the governor for providing a secure environment for the Fulani to operate in the state. ‘’We are also supporting the governor for approving free Contagious Bovine Plurol Pheneumonia (CBPP) vaccination for over 23, 000 cows belonging to our members in the state’’, he said.
The herders group also commended Governor Bello for putting in place measures which had led to a reduction in clashes between farmers and herders in the state, pointing out that the governor had given its members a sense of belonging by appointing one of them into his cabinet and by making their leaders members of the traditional councils at the state and local government levels.
The MACBAN organising scribe, who was with the state Chairman of the group, Umaru Jaido, added said that they decided to endorse Bello’s candidature because of their love for President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling APC.