Fulani pastoralists from Benue and Nasarawa yesterday endorsed the governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC in Benue state, Fr Hyacinth Alia as the man they will support for the 2023 election.
Addressing journalists after the meeting in Lafia, spokesman for the group, Alhaji Sahabi Husaini stressed that Alia is the only one who has promised that if elected as governor, he will protect Fulani herders with their cows and accommodate them for peaceful coexistence in the state.
“We are fully behind that reverend father. All Fulani men and women will support him to win the election because he has given us his word that our people who have been chased from Benue state will be allowed to return to carry out their legitimate business of cattle breeding,” he stated.
Husaini thanked the leadership of APC in Benue state for giving the governorship ticket to Alia whom he described as “a true friend who is ready to defend the Fulani interest”.
“Let me tell you that even in 2019, we preferred Jime, who was like a son to us instead of Ortom but the majority of Benue people wanted Ortom so we had to wait for the right time (2023) when we will install a governor who will serve the Fulani interest in that state”, said.
The herders’ spokesman further said that they would mobilize support for the Benue APC governorship candidate with financial resources to enable him emerge victorious at the polls next year.
Alia last month received a similar endorsement from another group known as APC Fulani Nationwide which said it is working round the clock to ensure that he becomes Benue governor in 2023.
National Leader of the group, Garus Gololo, told our correspondent on telephone that the Benue APC candidate is the only one who has held meetings with Fulani pastoralists and condemned the Benue anti-open grazing law while giving them assurance that he will protect their interests if they support him to win the coming election.
Gololo accused Governor Samuel Ortom of making a law that has grounded the business (open grazing) of Fulani herders in the state. He said their reason for backing the APC candidate in 2019 against Ortom and now supporting Alia is to have a Governor who will repeal the law prohibiting open grazing and allow their members free passage in parts of Benue state.
Gololo added that the struggle to return Fulanis to Benue will not end until they succeed in achieving their target, no matter how long it takes.