Kaduna based Islamic Scholar Sheikh (Dr) Ahmad Gumi has built schools for herdsmen in the Kaduna forests as part of measures to curb banditry and general insecurity.
Gumi said that the insecurity situation in the country can become a thing of the past, saying bandits are ready to drop their arms if education opportunities and other basic amenities are provided for Fulani herdsmen at the grassroots.
The sheikh stated this on Sunday while on an inspection tour of Sheikh Uthman Bin Fodio Centre, a school built by Sheikh Gumi funded Mosque Foundation Limited, at Kagarko Grazing Reserve near Kohoto Village in Kagarko local government area of Kaduna State.
Sheikh Gumi said if the centre, which is designed to educate herdsmen, is replicated everywhere in the country, Nigerians will live in peace, adding that, instead of spending billions on military hardware to fight the bandits, Nigeria should spend money on schools and teachers.
The Islamic scholar stated categorically that, he had spoken with the bandits and they have expressed willingness to drop their arms and embrace peace if their children can be given education and other social amenities.
‘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 perpetrator is drawn from a pool; so we want to go there and dry the pool and we found out that education is the best cure,’ Gumi said.
‘If they are educated, they will not be doing what they are doing. So, we say we must take education to the grassroots and we embarked on the project to also be an example for others, local government, state and federal and rich individuals even cooperative societies to come together and make sure that we are directed across the forest to know what we can do to carter for nomads; it does not cost much, very little and it will help to educate them and we will live peacefully with them.
‘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 and the place will be engaged for 24 hours because the herdsmen usually take their cattle out by 10 am and bring them back by dawn or sunset so they have 2 hours before they take their cattle away and we have 2 to 3 hours because we like to put some solar light so that they can read 8, 9, 10 in the night so that the herder can go and come back.
‘We have schools, we have hospital and also showing them how to grind the foliage which they can use to feed their animals, some of them don’t need to go out because those things are so cheap and farmers are throwing those things away, soon farmers will start charging for it. If we can duplicate this everywhere Nigerians will live in peace.’
On whether or not he said Nigeria will no longer exist if bandits are declared as terrorists, he said, “It is a quotation out of context, I didn’t say there will be no Nigeria, I said if banditry now has turned into terrorism, fanatical religious terrorism which is there because Islam recognises religious terrorism so if we allow the herdsmen to turn into a religious fanatic and extremist it will not be good for us as a nation.
herdsmen as terrorists because you are attaching it to herdsmen, you are not attaching it to an organization and if you say herdsmen are terrorist Nigeria will have a problem, the whole course will be on fire, the North South and East will be on fire and nothing will remain of Nigeria if everywhere is on fire.’
He said, 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, so long their women and children will learn they are ready to drop their weapons, so why won’t we embrace peace” he stressed.
Earlier while addressing the community, Dr Gumi said that though the construction of the centre is still ongoing, the three tiers of government can come in and partner on training the herdsmen on how they can be economically viable.
‘We want Nigerians to know that the herdsman is the most peaceful. For those that have used banditry and criminality to express their grievances, we want them to know that there is another way.
‘We call on the three tiers of government, corporate organisations and public-spirited individuals to support in bringing development to the grassroots,’ he appealed.
In their separate speeches, Fulani chiefs of the community, Ardo Ahmed Tahiru, Imam Tafa Dahiru and Christian cleric in the community, Luka Mai Ungwar commended Sheikh Gumi for the gesture, stressing that the project has united the community and they are all full of joy.
On arrival before proceeding to the community, Sheikh Gumi led his entourage to the Palace of the Sarki of Kagarko, 98-year-old Malam Sa’ad Abubakar where they received royal blessings.
It was gathered that the multi-million naira centre is being solely funded by Sheikh Gumi, while the land on which it is being constructed was donated by the Sarki of Kagarko.