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‘Why we formed volunteer association for nomadic education’

Two young Fulani nomads, Nura Muhammad Sunusi and Comrade Abdulrahaman Umar, from Jigawa State, volunteered to found the National Association of Fulani Volunteers on Nomadic…

Two young Fulani nomads, Nura Muhammad Sunusi and Comrade Abdulrahaman Umar, from Jigawa State, volunteered to found the National Association of Fulani Volunteers on Nomadic Education, (NAFVNE) which aims at increasing western education outreach among nomadic Fulani communities in the Northern part of the country. Interestingly, the duo pioneers of the association have been beneficiaries of the nomadic education and now both hold BSc. in Management Information Technology (MIT) and BSc. in Industrial Chemistry respectively. In this interview with Daily Trust, they said that they are confident that the Federal Government’s efforts towards recovering grazing routes will help in mitigating the farmer-herder disturbances.

 

Why was the NAFVNE founded, in spite of the fact that there are numerous other Fulani groups out there?

The association was established in the year 2015 in Jigawa State with full structures spread across all the  27 local government areas in the state and presently we are planning to expand all over the nineteen Northern states. We currently have partial structures in Taraba, Sokoto, and Kebbi states. The National Association of Volunteers on Nomadic Education is a non-partisan, non-political, non-sectional, and nonreligious group.

NAFVNE was established after a careful study and wide consultation of the terrain of nomadic communities in Jigawa State. We had again consulted the Executive Secretary of the Agency for Nomadic Education in Jigawa State, Hajiya Ramatu Muhammad, and chairman of farmers and herdsmen Board, Malam Adamu I. Birniwa, who had guided and counselled us. And we have benefitted from nomadic schools and as nomadic youth ambassadors, we came with the idea of founding the association with the primary aim of sensitising the Fulani communities on nomadic education. Other objectives include enhancing access to nomadic children to elementary model education, assisting the nomadic child in developing and actualising his future ambition, and promoting peace and harmony between the nomadic Fulani and other ethnic groups.

And we targeted that each of the nomadic students shall be an ambassador of nomadic communities anytime and anywhere. And to answer the second part of your second question, the clear distinction between our association and similar Fulani groups is that NAFVNE mainly focuses on the education sector alone. As you might have known, we have three categories of nomadic Fulani – total migration nomads, split migration nomads, and seasonal migration nomads. In all these categories, we are targeting out-of-school children and non-adult formal education persons.

Sanusi and Umar with some students at Karkar Nomadic Primary School, Guri Local Government, Jigawa State

 

What are the milestones achieved since its inception in 2015?

Of course, we have achieved a lot so far. NAFVNE currently has more than 250 volunteers in Jigawa State alone, and there are five pilot primary schools under our supervision. One was built with two classrooms with an office at Bulliti village of Lafiya Ward in Birnin Kudu Local Government Area. We have four others as temporary schools at Kwanar Kulba in Birniwa Local Government Area, Zuzu village in Gurri Local Government Area, Mataran Kano village in Kirikasamma Local Government Area, and Batali village in Babura Local Government Area. In addition to these, we recently visited the State Minister of Education who gave us the assurance to support our course.

The federal government of Nigeria had a special commission on nomadic education. What are the gaps your association is trying to fill in this regard?

We keep in touch with the commission for nomadic education because we realised many things pertaining to the commission, especially the lack of staff and machinery to reach the destination of nomads. We are giving our own quota in supporting the commission to see that nomadic education is being delivered without any hindrance. In fact, we have a good and cordial relationship with the commission; and officially we visit the commission when the need arises. The commission is pleased with what we are doing in that regard, especially in Jigawa State. According to our checks, it is only Jigawa and Sokoto states that have agency for nomadic education. In other states what you can see is just a unit or department meant for nomadic education.

For us as an association and product of a nomadic school, we came with the mentioned ideas in order to fill the vacuum and render assistance to the commission. Therefore, our association and the commission as I said earlier are working cordially to achieve our aims and objectives.

And our checks also revealed that the commission is facing some challenges such as inadequate teachers and administrative staff, that the commission has less than 300 staff members countrywide to actualise its mandate. Also, it doesn’t have state liaison offices. In spite of additional functions and mandates, the commission also has not been getting commensurate funding to deliver well. And about the issue of inadequate teachers, we mobilised graduates and non-graduates who have good certificates for volunteering in teaching their fellow nomads. And, we are planning to open offices in all the 36 states of the nation which would serve as liaison offices.

And we are presenting these suggestions to the federal government of Nigeria. There is a need to educate and provide settlements for the Fulani who are constantly migrating. The use of mobile schools consists of the use of classrooms that can easily be assembled and disassembled after use and are transferable from one location to another. Some of the classrooms should be equipped with audiovisual aids which can contain fifteen to twenty children.

The nomads were estranged from government policies and activities and devoid of information. Therefore, the government should provide radios, televisions, and viewing centres for the nomads to alleviate their plights and to facilitate the acquisition of relevant skills, abilities, and competence, mental, social, and physical development necessary to survive and contribute to the development of society.

How do you run the affairs of the association in terms of financial services, and what are your major challenges?

This association is an independent body and its aims are purely educational, healthy, and modern entities of life. It doesn’t have any source of finance, but when financial issues arise, the members tax themselves to tackle the problem squarely. Meanwhile, almost all the members are attached to businesses; hence the association doesn’t depend on the federal, state, or local government or non-governmental sectors or institutes. We don’t depend on anybody financially.

There has been this hullabaloo over the profiling of Fulani as criminals with some of them engaged in banditry, kidnapping for ransom, and the like. What’s your take on this?

It is really sad and disgusting for those that are blaming them while they are in the forest looking after their cattle. I want to remind the public that before these crises or kidnappings which the Fulani are accused of, they have been in the forests because it is their own domicile and shelter.

It is sad indeed that they are at times victims for no reason and nobody cares. Once there is murder, assassination, kidnapping, banditry, and other criminal offences, accusing fingers are pointed at them.

I am sure that many things that the Fulani are accused of, they are not the culprits. Other ethnic groups can do anything and go almost scot-free unlike when it involves Fulani. The Fulani don’t deserve this type of stereotype in this society.

The Federal Government of Nigeria is determined to end farmer/herder clashes in the country through the process of recovering the cattle grazing routes and adopting ranching. Are you in support of these measures?

Conflicts between farmers and herders can be understood as a problem of access to land. The beginning of the 21st century witnessed an expansion of the agriculturist population and its cultivated land at the expense of pastureland in the Middle Belt. In an already politically unstable region, it has never always been possible to ascertain a legal title to land for every farmer. As a result, routes of herders were no longer available, especially in the context of global warming. The government’s efforts through the determined leaders to recover all the lost cattle grazing routes and ensure the adoption of the modern ranch are reliable. I believe it will solve the farmers/herder clashes in the country. Also, farmer/herder clashes are caused by a lack of management of grazing reserves located in different forests.

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