The Periscope reporter
The Fulani or Fulbe Pastoralists or the herdsmen are the most alienated, neglected, exploited and oppressed group in Nigeria. They are denied formal education and bereft of social amenities, surviving with animals in the forest, even though they contribute to the economy of the nation.
When they go to markets they are cheated, when they go to hospitals, they are charged exorbitantly as much as they are not spared by the security and/or any group arrogating to itself the custodian of security or justice in the environment they find themselves, owing to their ignorance.
Instances abound where some criminal tribesmen would dress like the Fulani herdsmen to unleash violence in their very same community, against their very same people, as a conspiracy against the herdsmen for murder.
The genocide against the Fulani herdsmen in Mambila, Taraba state, is one gory incident before the tribes in southern part of the country could join in the genocide against the Fulbe in the name of reprisals.
These experiences have not been reported anywhere for redress until recently when the Fulbe Development and Cultural Organization (FUDECO) took the rather legal step at the international level.
Pastoralists Fulbe of Nigeria have been represented at the 20th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) from the 19th to 30th April 2021, at the UN Headquarters, New York.
The Theme of this year’s session was “Peace, justice and strong institutions: the role of indigenous peoples in implementing Sustainable Development Goal 16″
Pastoralists all over the world are considered indigenous people under international law as contained in the UN Declaration on Indigenous People 2007.
This definition has been adopted by African countries and the African Commission. It is a different definition from the local understanding of aboriginality as the only factor in defining indigeneity.
It is based on self-identification, being marginalised, discriminated against and not part of mainstream ruling groups, maintaining a distinct culture and desire to keep it etc.
The Massai, Berbers (Touaregs) and pastoralists in Asia are also part of the international indigenous movement.
FUDECO Representative Jamila Hassan, Coordinator of Adamawa Chapter took part as part of her course on Indigenous Women Global Leadership Academy.
Jamila was selected among 10 African women to take part in the Leadership course after being nominated by the Chairman of FUDECO.
One major outcome of her participation in the forum is the submission of a report on massacre of pastoralists in Nigeria, highlighting the massacre of 20 Fulani in Igbariam, Oyi Local Council of Anambra State, to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The other concrete outcome is the approval of her proposed advocacy project on the education and rights of pastoralists girls to be implemented by FUDECO in Adamawa State.
Jamila Hassan participated in several sessions including: Access to Justice being Essential to achieving Sustainable Development for Indigenous People, the role of entrepreneurship, MSMEs and Empretec in post COVID 19 resurgence (EMPRETEC is an integrated capacity building programme of UNCTAD in the area of SMEs and entrepreneurial skills promotion), highlighting the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help vulnerable countries cope with unavoidable climate impacts, as well as the economic benefits of climate action, peace, justice and strong institutions: the role of indigenous peoples in implementing Sustainable Development Goal 16 and the session on the annual Report on Criminalization, Violence and Impunity Against Indigenous Peoples. She highlighted the issues faced by pastoralists in Nigeria in all these sessions.
Jamila Hassan said: “This is one of the most remarkable international experiences I have had besides my study in the UK. I was able to understand that the UN has really dedicated time and space for the indigenous people to share their views, statements, problems and recommendations which in turn the UN documents for implementation and follow-up.
“This single exposure has given me hope and strength that at the global level, justice and equality still exist.
“Thus, continue to fight for the rights of my indigenous people despite the struggle to survive at the local level not to mention the challenges we face on daily basis. It has also sharpened my perspective about advocacy, human rights, and reporting procedure and hope to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Jamila Hassan, a founding member of FUDECO holds a Masters degree in International Relations from the UK and just completed a post-graduate Diploma in Education and works for an international development agency. She finishes the Women Global Leadership Course in a few days.
FUDECO is dedicated to empowering pastoralists and finding new ways of tackling the problems of Fulbe in Nigeria at local, national and internal level.
We cannot solve our problems locally or by common sense only. For the 20 years of existence of the UN Permanent Forum only Fulbe Cameroon and Chad have been taking part. Nigerian Fulbe are now not just at the door but inside of the United Nations.