President Muhammadu Buhari says it is unfair to blame him for the herdsmen-farmer crisis that has claimed many lives in parts of the country.
The President said this on Tuesday during his visit to Plateau State, following the attack on some villages during which scores of people were killed.
According to him, the “Farmer knows that the Nigerian cattle herder that he knows doesn’t carry nothing more than a stick, occasionally sometimes something to cut grass to feed his cattle.”
“But the present herder, I am told, carries AK47 and people are even blaming me for not talking to them because maybe (they say) I look like one of them.
“There is some injustice in these aspersions,” the President said in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.
He asked the media to discharge their duties responsibly and be mindful of what is being given to them to report.
President Buhari further condemned the latest attack in Plateau and condoled with the affected families, the government and people of the state.
He also wished those injured a speedy recovery.
The President was accompanied to the meeting by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State and his counterparts from Kebbi and Niger states.
He used the occasion of the interactive session to appeal to Nigerians to avoid inflammatory utterances that endanger peace or promote conflicts.
President Buhari, however, said, “It is noteworthy that many Nigerians still acknowledge that despite the security challenges, this administration has made notable successes in the security sector.”
Earlier in his remarks, Governor Lalong blamed parties in the conflict in the state for defaulting on their agreement to maintain peace, leading to the recent upsurge in violence, after nearly three years of calm and normalcy in the state.
He said, “We are concerned as a state that the sophisticated weapons used in these attacks, from the evidence on the ground and the narrations of victims, are not those conventional to our environment for self-defence but reflective of a terrorist invasion.”
“It, therefore, demands a justified response like that which was undertaken to address the Boko Haram insurgency,” the governor added.
He also requested that given the number of villages completely ravaged by the violence, the Federal Government should establish an Emergency Special Intervention Fund to help reconstruct the destroyed communities.
Meanwhile, President Buhari carefully listened to the presentations and recommendations made by the Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in the state, Mr Nura Abdullahi, and a representative of Berom community in Plateau, Mrs Florence Jambol, on engendering peace in the communities.
The meeting was also attended by traditional rulers, community and religious leaders, representatives of youth, women and trade union groups, security chiefs and some top government officials.