by AljazirahNews | November 16, 2021 11:21 am
BY CALAB ISHAYA
Fiery Muslim cleric Ahmad Gumi, has established a school for bandits known as Sheikh Uthman Bin Fodio Centre, located at Kagarko Grazing Reserve near Kohoto Village in Kaduna State.
It would be recalled that Gumi in recent times has come under criticism over his open support for bandits who take defenceless citizens hostage for ransom as well as engage in acts of pillage especially in the north-central and north-west parts of Nigeria.
However, Gumi while giving rationale for the school said it is established for herdsmen insisting that the provision of infrastructures to them in their remote locations could help in curbing their violent ideologies.
The clergy may give credence to his earlier stance that military approach cannot quell activities of bandits/armed men causing wanton destruction of lives and property.
Besides, many have criticised the federal government of giving tacit backing to Gumi who has been accused on several occasions of making inflammatory statements on the issue of banditry in the country.
According to him the school which was built by Sheikh Gumi funded by Mosque Foundation Limited, Kaduna “Is designed to educate the herdsmen and if 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 such money on schools and teachers. I have 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”.
He went on to say that “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 perpetrators are drawn from a pool so we want to go there and dry the pool and we found out that education is the best cure.
“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”, Gumi stated.
The school the founder explained is a 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 two hours before they take their cattle away and we have two to three hours because we like to put some Solar light so that they can read eight, nine and 10 in the night so that the herder can go and come back.
“We have schools, we have hospitals 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.
“99% of the herdsmen are not into banditry but if you turn it into religious struggle they will just go there committing crime, so it is not good to label them as terrorist because it will profile all herdsmen as terrorist 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 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.
He said although 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 said.
However, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, has always been a figure in the North stemming from his late father who was also a Sheik and the youngernGumi coming from the Military background and the medical field.
On matters relating to banditry, Gumi has been vocal against the use of force to stop bandits but preached for dialogue which he claimed would yield positive results.
Now he has embarked on this journey of rebranding the bandits through education and reorientation should be commendable but AljazirahNigeria interacted with few elites and religious leaders in the North and South and non of them agreed to be quoted on prints rather spoke against the Gumi’s move because he was the only one that claimed to have interface with these bandits.
One of the speakers from Kaduna, a well known religious leader spoke rhetorically in low tune but angry. He queried: Are bandits Nigerians? Where are they from? They hardly speak our local languages, who will accommodate them in their forest after killing many people who never did them wrong? He finally said in anger that Gumi should take them where they came from since he interacts with them, he should also know where they came from.
Another religious leader from Zamfara who spoke with our paper asked the same question: Who brought them to this country? Where did they come from? Does Gumi know what he is doing? For me I disagree with his ideas and models. These boys have killed, maimed, burnt properties and he is educating them. Are they illiterates?
Nigerians that were sampled by our team of reporters over 95% declined support for Gumi’s education idea rather they see it as a way of settling these bandits who can never repent of their atrocities and a RUGA in style. They called on President Buhari and Governors to jettison the idea from Gumi but they should be punished according to our laws because ordinary stealing and mistaken killings attracts severe punishments in Nigeria, so why bandits won’t be punished, they queried.
Gumi’s idea might be good but we should tread with caution as Nigerians have been badly dealt with by these bandits who are 95% foreigners.
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