The National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Bello Abdullahi Bodejo has said that his association was not going to support any presidential candidate from the south in 2023. The leader of the Fulani socio-cultural association was reacting to the assertions by Southern and Middle Belt leaders who, after a meeting earlier in the month, declared that they would not support any presidential candidate from the North. Their reason was that power should rotate to the south in 2003.
He stated that no Southern presidential aspirant would get the support of the Fulani people unless they pledge to repeal laws banning open grazing and bring back the controversial grazing routes that had been outlawed in many states in the South.
What is your view on the state of the nation; the challenges with security, especially in some states in the North, where bandits have killed many and sacked many communities?
The security situation in the country, especially in the North should give every right thinking Nigerian serious concern. Look at the way these bandits are killing people and burning down some villages in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna and Niger states.
How are these things affecting your people?
Fulani are the greatest victims of this banditry because they ply their trade inside bushes and forests, where these bandits attack them, rustle their cattle, kill the men, rape their wives and daughters, abduct their wives and children. This is the lot of the Fulani, but it is not reported in the media. No one in high places speaks for them. They are on their own and carry their burden.
What are you people going to do about it?
We are praying for peace all over the nation and at the same time appealing to President Buhari to do everything to halt these killings by these people. The security agents should equally do something about this ugly situation; let it not be seen as if they were helpless in dealing with these bandits. Their activities are affecting everybody.
What about the security group that you wanted to set up to protect the Fulani all over the country?
We are still in the process of putting together the Miyetti Allah vigilance group to protect our people everywhere. This is a security issue and it is not done in a hurry. We are fine-tuning it and very soon, it shall be unveiled.
Coming to 2023 elections, popular socio-cultural groups like the Afenifere, Ohanaeze, PANDEF and Middle Belt Forum, recently said that they were not going to support a Northerner as president, that it is the turn of the South to produce the president. What is your position on this?
Even though Nigeria is one, we are not going to support a Southerner as president. A president from the North is better because northerners are better managers of the nation than Southerners. The North has demonstrated that there is no difference among them in the region; they don’t show this is Fulani, this is Hausa, and this is this and that, unlike in the South. Northern people have managed the country better than southerners.
If your enemy asks you to join him to scatter your father’s house, can you support him to break your father’s house? You shouldn’t do that, but if he overshadows you and you help him to accomplish that, you would cry later. It will be very difficult for a southerner to manage Nigeria the way a northerner would. The northerners that are ruling or governing were trained by our leaders that ruled the country before. The Afenifere and others that are jumping up and down should know that political power is not collected by force. If you know that your mind is clean, you meet others to get power and not be talking tough. The EndSARS that happened and the Biafra issue will affect the South in asking for power.
If any southern aspirant approaches your organisation for support, what will you request he should do for your organisation?
The southern governors and other political leaders have said that they don’t need Fulani in their land, so if they come to seek our support to be the president, we are not and we cannot support them. We cannot support any person from that region because they have shown hatred towards Fulani. If you hate Fulani in your state, you hate yourself, you hate your family and you hate your politics. I have not seen anybody from there who can come boldly and say that we should support him. Maybe, before I see the person I would have been convinced by northern leaders, who can explain to me or give me reasons my organisation should support such person. But, I’m yet to see up till this moment. When electricity is taken, darkness descends, and you won’t see anything until light is restored. So, we are still inside darkness, especially how everybody over there hates Fulani.
Talking on what can be done to the Fulani, Mr. President mooted the idea of ranching, but even though I’m not inside government, go and see how many, including governors, that applied. None of them is interested in setting up a ranch, they want to collect the money and use it for something else. So, I call on the president not to yield to them by giving them any money in the name of ranching. You hate Fulani, but you want to collect money on their behalf to do ranching. Maybe it is where your children will be playing or ranching for your dogs, pigs. I don’t understand these people. They just want to collect the money for ranching and embezzle it. Anybody who collects money for ranching and misappropriate it will not last long.
Do you mean that you will not listen to any southern aspirant? And if you do, what would you be telling him to do for your people?
RUGA is politicians’ language, while Cattle Colony is the language of people who want to eat government money. We have grazing reserves. All these governors, before they were born, we had these grazing reserves. Some were gazetted, while others were not. Why they don’t want to give us back the grazing reserves is what I don’t know. Last two weeks, the governor of Jigawa invited me to come and see the kind of grazing reserves they have and I spent five days visiting them.
The first thing we look at, is the person seeking our support. Who is that person and who are the people around him from the North? And then we also look at the characters of the people in the North who will call us to support that person. If you hate Fulani and 2023 is approaching and you are coming to ask for our support, which role have you played to support the Fulani cause, whether as a sitting vice president, senator, governor? If you are a sitting governor, what have you done for the Fulani in your state? All these people running around to be president are apostles of anti-grazing laws.
For any aspirant who wants our support, he must have a firm commitment to bringing back all the grazing reserves which transverse the entire country, build houses, provide water and other amenities in the grazing reserves, and allow our people to do their businesses freely in the South. Such grazing reserves should be gazetted. However, I don’t see any of them coming because of their mindset against the Fulani. We are not asking for tarred roads, and other things in the cities, we are just asking for grazing reserves. You are not the one to teach us how to do our businesses. While you are in your mansion, our own mansion is the bush.
I reemphasise my call on President Buhari not to approve money for all these governors who say they want to do ranching, especially those who had earlier enacted anti grazing law in their states. It is all scam; how can they do ranching for the Fulani they don’t like? All we want is grazing reserves; put solar light, small school, and veterinary health centre. How much does it cost? But if you are watching TV, you would be hearing billions of naira voted for RUGA, Cattle Colony. Where are they? I don’t know what is happening in this country. It is very funny.
What is your take on declaration of bandits as terrorists?
When the bandits were declared as terrorists, Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom called on Buhari to as well declare all the Fulani organisations as terrorists groups. Ortom wants to be a hero by force. After the end of his tenure, even to be a councillor in his village, he can’t get it. He is doing politics with the Fulani. He was the first person that called for the stoppage of Fulani from grazing their cattle, but we went to court to stop his evil plot and that is why he is running here and there, asking Buhari to declare Fulani organisations as terrorist groups. Which names has he not called Fulani? Nigerians should ignore him. He is a joker.
You said your association will not support a southerner for 2023, but some members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) have endorsed Bola Tinubu. How do we reconcile these positions?
Maybe MACBAN members want to go into politics or they want to turn their association into a political party. It doesn’t concern me. They are free to endorse or support Tinubu, he is one of them. MACBAN is very different from ours. MACBAN comprises members from different tribes who are into cattle breeding. Anybody from any place or tribe can be their member. But ours, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore is purely a Fulani socio-cultural organisation; it is just for the Fulani ethnic group and it is not open to any person from another tribe.
Fulani have suffered a lot in the South and in Benue State, where Ortom is the lord. So, any of them that wants our support for 2023 election should tender an apology to the Fulani because of the way they have been treating Fulani in their places. I’m not fighting Tinubu; he has the right to contest for the presidency. I don’t know what he has given to them or promised them, but I still stand on my position that these southern politicians don’t want the Fulani and they have not done anything to help the Fulani people in their places. But because of 2023, they are coming to look for our support. If we should support them, they must tender an apology to the Fulani. We are not fighting anybody, but they should know that what they did or are doing is wrong. We believe that Nigerian is one and whoever that would be the president must carry everybody along. MACBAN should know that it is too early to endorse any aspirant.