Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has said bandits are ready to drop their arm only if government can provide education and other basic amenities for Fulani herdsmen across the north and by extension, Nigeria.
Gumi disclosed this while on inspection tour of Sheikh Uthman Bin Fodio Centre, a school built by Sheikh Gumi Mosque Foundation Limited, at Kagarko Grazing Reserve near Kohoto village. It was funded by the cleric (Gumi).
According to him, if the centre, which is designed to educate herdsmen, is replicated everywhere in the country, Nigerians will live in peace.
Gumi noted that instead of spending billions on military hardware to fight the bandits, Nigeria should spend such money on schools and teachers.
He also disclosed that he had spoken with the bandits and they were willing to drop their arms and embrace peace, if their children could be provided with education and other social amenities.
Gumi said, “What motivated me to start this project was to solve the insecurity problem we have from the root because every crime has its perpetrators and every perpetrators are drawn from a pool. So, we want to go there and dry the pool and we found out that education is the best cure.
“If they are educated, they will not be doing what they are doing. So, we say we must take education to the grass roots and we embarked on the project to also be an example for others.
“What we have here is centre containing six classrooms that can be used for primary, secondary schools and at various times you can teach all categories at all times.
“The place will be engaged for 24 hours because the herdsmen usually take their cattle out by 10am and bring them back by dawn or sunset. So, they have two hours before they take their cattle away and we have two to three hours because we like to put some solar light so that they can read 8, 9, 10pm in the night.”
The Islamic scholar also said he was quoted out of context that Nigeria won’t exist if bandits were declared terrorists.
“I didn’t say there will be no Nigeria; I said if banditry has now turned into terrorism, fanatical religious terrorism which is there because Islam recognises religious terrorism; so if we allow the herdsmen to turn into religious fanatic and extremist it will not be good for us as a nation.
“About 99 per cent of the herdsmen are not into banditry but if you turn it into religious struggle they will just go there committing crime. So, it is not good to label them as terrorists because it will profile all herdsmen as terrorist because you are attaching it to herdsmen.”
“There is a lot that can be done to improve insecurity in Nigeria such as having this kind of centre instead of spending billions on hardware, let’s spend it on schools and teachers.
“Even the bandits I have spoken with them as am speaking with you to drop down their weapons to study. As long their women and children will learn, they are ready to drop their weapons, so why won’t we embrace peace.”