By Akanji Alowolodu, Bauchi
Bauchi State Governor, Sen Bala Mohammed has said that unconstructive criticisms is bringing a lot of hatred among Nigerians stressing that, “sometimes we are quick to go to the press on issues that are dividing us. I will tell you something that I tell my colleagues about the farmers-herders clashes in Nigeria”.
The Governor who criticized his Benue state counterpart, Samuel Ortom for what he termed the latter’s poor handling of the herders-farmers clashes in his state opined that Samuel Ortom’s lack of foresight has triggered the current negative perception of Fulani herders across the country.
Bala Mohammed made the disclosure while speaking at the closing ceremony of the 2021 Correspondents’ Chapel of the Bauchi State NUJ Press Week , held on Thursday at Command Guest House, Bauchi.
The Governor who was responding to the theme for the Week ‘The role of the Media in Promoting Peace and Unity in Nigeria’ , cautioned Samuel Ortom and some other Governors especially from the Southern parts of the country to guard against utterances and policies that is threatening to the peace and unity of the country.
He declared that, “You have seen what our colleagues in the southwest are doing and some of them from the south east are doing same. We have told them with all modesty that they are wrong. But the person that is most wrong is the governor of Benue State, my brother and my colleague Governor Samuel Ortom”.
Bala Mohammed added that, “He started all these. If you don’t accommodate other tribes, there will be challenges because we also accommodate other tribes in Bauchi and other places. We have many Tiv people farming in Alkaleri, Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro in Bauchi State”.
“Has anybody told them to go? No because they have inalienable rights to be here. We have people living in Bauchi for over 150 years, even before the birth of Nigeria., nobody is talking to them to go and some of them have risen to become Permanent Secretaries in government in Bauchi, Borno and so on”, the Governor stressed.
Bala Mohammed however lamented that pastoralists in the country, particularly Fulani were being maligned even though most of them have become victims of cattle rustlers who have dispossessed them of their common wealth and they “have no option than to carry AK-47 because the society and the government are not protecting him.”
The Governor who shot to prominence when he moved the ‘Doctrine of Necessity at the Senate in 2009 which eventually paved the way for Goodluck Jonathan to become Acting President, and later President when Umar Yar’adua died in office, called on Nigerians to stop labeling Fulanis as criminals because every ethnic groups has criminals
He also called on journalists to be cautious in their reportage and exercise restraint and avoid takings sides in the issues of herders-farmers clashes to safeguard the unity and peace of the country.
He said that, “Something that is so bad and can destroy us, something that is threatening the peace and unity of the country, we must not toy with it. In this regard I must commend the Governor of Plateau State, Governor Simon Lanlong for promoting the peace of the country”.
The Governor opined that, “Despite Simon Lalong’s minority’s background, he is leading the Northern Governors Forum, Lalong is focused and unity driven. We need people like Lanlong because the fights between herders and farmers in Plateau State has stopped because of justice and equity, because of patriotism and comFulmunity engagement and fostering understanding between the diverse ethnic groups and that is what we are doing in Bauchi. Everybody is important and so the media must make sure they promote unity and peace of the country,”
Earlier in his address, Chairman of the Correspondents Chapel, Malam Ahmed Mohammed, cautioned journalists against misusing their constitutional power to promote disunity and disaffection among Nigerians.
Ahmed Mohammed said that, “I want to yet again appeal to my dear colleagues to be cautious in their reportage. One wrongly-worded headline can spark a fire that may burn down the entire nation or cause irreparable damages to the society or the person(s) affected. One of us may feel that he can retract a story, but news stories are like oil. You can attempt to wipe the spill but you may never get it all back,”.
State Chairman of the NUJ, Comrade Umar Sa’id commended the Governor for his friendly posture towards working Journalists in the state assuring him that as they discharge their professional functions, Journalists in the state will remain fair and objective.