National President, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Socio-cultural Association, Bello Abdullahi Bodejo has said that the Fulani people are yet to decide which presidential candidate they will support in 2019 general elections. In this interview with WILLY EYA, he said that with two Fulani sons, President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar as the major candidates, the Miyetti Allah is being careful in making a choice.
With the flagging off of the campaigns, Nigerians are getting set for the 2019 general elections; how will your organization, the Miyetti Allah respond to the development?
We feel well since the primaries ended successfully. For us the Fulani people, I urge them to continue to participate in anything they are doing in Nigeria including politics. They should make sure that they are interested in politics even at the local level and villages. But the leadership of the Fulani is just watching how the 2019 election will turn out. As one of the leaders, I am warning the politicians not to play politics with the Fulani people in doing their campaigns. Why I say this is because some politicians always want to twist issues concerning the Fulani. People will always want to politicize everything concerning the Fulani. We are happy that God is gradually exposing those who play politics with the Fulani people. I thank God that the major candidates who want to contest are Fulani people. Those people who have been spoiling the name of the Fulani, I want to see what they will do now that the two major candidates are Fulani. People should concentrate on issues in the campaign and not to use the Fulani herders/farmers issue to do politics. That should be a no-go area. We know that politics is the cause of the Fulani herders/farmers clashes in this country. These are people who have been living together for ages without any problems. The problem is the handiwork of desperate politicians. When they get frustrated in politics, even when a husband and wife are quarreling, they say it is the Fulani. All those who have been spoiling the name of the Fulani, we are following them legally one after the other. All the crises that you have witnessed in the last two to three years, were not caused by the Fulani. All those Nigerians who are causing these things should apologise to the Fulani. About six months ago, if you mention the name of a Fulani man, he was seen as a killer even though anybody who knows the history will not believe that. The Fulani are very peaceful people.
It is interesting that the two major parties’ candidates, President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar are Fulani; looking at both of them, who will the Miyetti Allah support?
We are careful in making our choice between Buhari and Atiku. I accept that both of them are Fulani sons. We believe that both of them can lead the country. Our only concern is that if you follow the history of democracy in Nigeria, no leader has shown interest on the issue of herders. After winning election, none of them has been able to say what do I do for these Fulani who have been supplying 99 per cent of the nation’s meat. Today, I can say that nothing of such has been done for the Fulani herders. For instance, the grazing areas are all over the country. Some are gazetted but some are not but I am wondering that up till now, nobody has asked where are the grazing reserves. But thank God President Buhari came to power and they are proposing cattle colony even though there is no single cattle route now for the Fulani to graze their cattle. Some are saying if they establish the cattle colonies, the Fulani would take over the country and so on and so forth. They have now turned the intention of government to establish colonies into politics.
On the issue of which candidate that Miyetti Allah should support in 2019, we have not decided; we are just watching. The important thing is that we have educated the Fulani to get their PVCs. We have told them that any governor who wants to use them to play politics, they should vote him out. Since 2014, I am happy where the Fulani are in politics. Some have insulted me and said all kinds of things about me but in 2019, we are trying to make the Fulani understand their rights. Some people think that the Federal Government gives me money, some say I am greedy; people see me from different perspectives. They are doing all that because I am encouraging the Fulani to come out and vote. But I am a leader and I know what the Fulani are facing and I am not bothered. Thank God now Atiku is Fulani and Buhari is Fulani. So, we cannot just be in a haste to make a choice between the two candidates. We are analyzing all the activities of the candidates. I am not talking only about the president but the governors. Some use the lives of the Fulani to play politics. Some governors have not performed well in their states and they want to use the Fulani to gain political advantage. We are trying to make sure that the Fulani select the best candidates that can represent their interests. I am happy that when the Fulani say yes, it is yes. If the Fulani say they are following somebody, it is total and all of them would follow that person. In 2019, we are being very careful and like I said, we have not yet decided who to vote for. But at the right time, we will come out to tell Nigerians our mind. Let Nigerians allow everybody say his mind and play the type of politics he wants. However, we are neutral for now; we cannot say that this is where we stand for them.
Many think that the Miyetti Allah will support Buhari because he is like your patron, and in the past before Atiku emerged, your organization made it clear that they were going to support Buhari in 2019. Has your position changed?
The truth is that so many people do not know what they are saying. We have our patron. Buhari is a Fulani man but is not the patron of the Fulani socio-cultural association even though I can say that he is more than that. So many have been saying Buhari is this and that to the Miyetti Allah but it is not true. Our life patron is former President Goodluck Jonathan. So, if somebody is saying that Buhari is our life patron, he is wrong. Why we chose Jonathan as our life patron is to avoid the issue of religion. We want to carry everybody along. Our association wants people who can unite this country. We are looking for who can come and help us. If you are Fulani and you cannot help us, we do not care about you.
Do you believe those who think that Atiku is one Fulani who have friends all over Nigeria and will be in a better position to unite the country if voted into power?
People have different opinions. You know for instance that Nigerian lands belong to the states which are controlled by the governors. Like I said before, some of the governors are using the Fulani to play politics. That is why you are seeing the Fulani herders/farmers crises becoming very high. Yes, some people will say that Atiku understands Nigeria more than Buhari but I cannot make any comment there because we are listening to some governors and politicians. Some of the governors and politicians just make noise to cause trouble in the country. They do all that because of their selfish interests and to gain some political advantage. For, now, I do not want to make any comment on President Buhari or Atiku. We have not decided yet but when we do, we will open our mouth to say this is whom we want.
Since the increase in political activities, the clashes between farmers and herders have gone down; what do you think is the cause?
The reason is that the people who wanted to achieve some political advantage and even change their parties, have already achieved their aims. You know these politicians, if they want to change their parties or achieve some political objectives, they can do anything. I believe that why the crisis has come down is that the Inspector General of Police and the security outfits, do their work very well. We appreciate their efforts. They have been arresting all those trouble makers. I have always said it that any time there is a general election, there will be increased tension in the country. After every election, people who lose will want to cause trouble and those who are in power would want to suppress them. But what I am saying is that after the election, there must be a winner and a loser.
What is your current relationship with Benue State and its governor, Samuel Ortom? Are you mending fences?
In Benue, it is only small issues that the Fulani are having there. The security agencies are still harassing them and maltreating the Fulani. I am sure that Ortom knows that he has made a mistake by establishing the anti open grazing law. Ortom is a leader and we the leadership of Miyetti Allah, we cannot fight him but want to say that the anti open grazing law is not good for our country. Ortom has spoiled the Fulani and he should apologise to us. Currently, we are in court to seek justice about the anti grazing law. The Fulani can never support that kind of law. Any other state that wants to establish that kind of law in the country, we will take her to court. I know that some people gave Ortom wrong advice to establish the law. He has forgotten that it is not only the Tiv people that he is ruling. Finally, what I want to say is that any candidate that we want to support, all of us including our wives, cows, cattle and everything will be used to support that person.