The Presidency has described as an ‘absolute falsehood’ the allegation that the Federal Government gave N100billion to Miyetti Allah, an association of Fulani herders, for ‘dubious reasons’.
Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, in a statement in Abuja on Friday.
The presidential aide was reacting to comments credited to Ohaneze Ndigbo and Afenifere, who expressed concern about the meeting between the government and Miyetti Allah.
He said: ” We are pleased that Afenifere and Ohaneze Ndigbo found our insights worthy of attention even when they disagreed with our view that they, as socio-cultural associations, represent same interests as Miyetti Allah, an association of Fulani herders.
”Miyetti Allah, like any other trade, community, ethnic organization or interest group is a legal stakeholder in our nation and should be respected.
”We maintain that the government needs to engage all stakeholders and seek partnership in building our country.
”The activities of Miyetti Allah do not benefit selected ethnicities or Muslims only, but everyone.
”Long before petroleum became the core of Nigerian economy, agriculture was the main source of Nigerian wealth. Cattle, hides and skin were a major part of Nigerian export.
”It is right to state that there are criminals among every group in Nigeria and in every country. There are criminals among the northern population as there are in the southern part of the country.
”It is not good to generalise blames. The government will engage each stakeholder and create a dialogue between, and among, different groups.”
Shehu, therefore, maintained that both socio-cultural groups should not have insisted that government should not to talk to Miyetti Allah.
He added that the meeting was necessitated by ”the need to address and engage Nigeria’s ethnic, religious, cultural and economic plurality that was evident when General Yakubu Gowon introduced National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
”The need to engage all groups of Nigeria is as much relevant today as it was then.
”The Presidency’s position is that President Buhari’s government is equipped to address these issues.”
According to him, the security challenges faced by Nigeria today make the task of addressing the issues very urgent.