Abdullahi Hassan, Zaria
Following the reports that Fulani nomads have endorsed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar as their preferred choice, ahead of next month’s presidential election, the National Coordinator, Buhari Presidential Support Committee, Alhaji Ya’u Danfulani, who is also a trustee and member of various Fulani organisations in Nigeria, has dismissed the reports saying there are five reasons every Fulani man must vote for President Muhammadu Buhari.
He also spoke on what he termed the politicisation of the herdsmen menace; how Buhari crossed the huddles of emerging the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, and the president’s promise to reward loyalty and host of other Issues.
It has been observed that unlike 2015 campaigns, President Muhammadu Buhari has called on the electorate to vote only competent and credible people, but he didn’t mention APC. What does this imply?
You see, sometimes people tend to miss an important point in politics. Nigeria operates multi party system in which every Nigerian has his choice on the party and the candidate. In a way, Buhari played politics when he told voters to vote for competence. This is so because his team is competent and credible. It is true that some people misinterpreted this statement. I read in a newspaper recently where some people read it to Buhari asked people not to vote APC candidates. This is complete misleading and distortion of facts. Mr. President is a true democrat and he believes that the current APC political office holders have performed wonderfully.
Of course, there are those who defected from APC, whose attitudes are questionable, rough, insincere and dishonest. These are the people Mr. President is referring to. APC remains the only platform that any credible person can aspire for any political office; as such one would wonder how President Buhari would ask Nigerians to vote another party. This is impossible at this crucial period of elections. Let me tell you, sooner or later those who willingly or unwillingly defected from the wining team will regret their actions.
Tell us how President Buhari crossed the huddles of criticisms and condemnations against his administration’s policies and programmes to emerge APC’s presidential candidate?
To be precise, there is no way Buhari will not survive any trap set for him to ahead of the 2019 election. To me, all those things that people see as huddles are actually nothing. Let’s take the first challenge for example, the intra-APC crises which were masterminded by some so called progressives, whose aim was to divide APC. You see those that were behind it are known for their political conspiracy. After plotting the crises they ran away and left the party intact. In other words, they eventually defected to another party without injury to Buhari or APC.
The second issue is the security challenge. But the truth is, the present situation is not same as was witnessed during the Jonathan’s administration. The Boko Haram operation has been frustrated today and their strength limited, only to Maiduguri. Other security problems are being tackled simultaneously. Other issues like development of South-South, South-East have been resolved through the 2018 budgetary allocation. I don’t think there is any issue that the opposition can use to attack Buhari at the moment which cannot be countered. That is why Buhari Campaign is moving successfully nationwide.
One of the major criticisms against Buhari is his inability to reward loyalty. Although he recently promised to change if he is re-elected, what level of confidence can you give Nigerians that Mr. President will fulfil this promise?
My friend, the issue of rewarding loyalty is too subjective and personal. You see, though it’s natural you reciprocate good gesture, but we should understand that one must not be appointed as a minister or adviser before we describe it as a reward. I can help you in many ways; in my business or my political ambition. I think Mr. President has rea- soned with those people calling for reward of loyalty based on their interpretations. I have the confidence that President Buhari will act and get things right especially for those who feel offended. You see, we are hu- man beings, we make mistakes and we stand to be corrected. The most impressive thing about Buhari is, he accepts mistakes and cor- rect them as soon as he realises it.
You are a typical Fulani nomad; President Buhari has been blamed for supporting the uprising of Fulani herdsmen where many Nigerian were killed. Don’t you see it as a factor that can affect his re-election bid?
Yes, you are right I am Fulani from nomad’s family, and I know my people very well. It is unfortunate the way some Nigerians treat Fulani today. Every shit and bad action will be attributed to a Fulani man as if he is the only bad person in Nigeria. People forget the fact that Fulani tribe constitutes 65 percent of the total population of the Northern Nigerian representing 20 per cent of the Nigerian population. The Fulani nomads or their livestock contribute 30 to 40 per cent of the entire agricultural activity in Nigeria. So you can see how Fulani became a significant factor to the economy of this country. Let me be frank with you, the issue was political, and it was designed to undermine the administration of Muhammadu Buhari. Thank God, he is vindicated and the plot to tarnish his image and reputation of Fulani has also failed. Those who wanted to paint Buhari and his tribe as violent, incompetent, barbaric and wicked were eventually disappointed and embarrassed. The herdsmen were some foreigners sponsored to kill innocent Nigerians in the name of Fulani nomads.
It is the same way, the same situation everywhere; people kill Fulani, take away their cattle and burn their houses. No compensation, no shelter, no food, leaving their families stranded. I read recently in a newspaper that some Fulani communities in Kaduna State have petitioned the state and Federal Government over alleged killing of Fulani whose cows were also taken away by volunteer vigilance group with connivance of some people in Army uniform. You see, these are crimes committed against Fulani to frustrate them and make them wretched. But it must have been sponsored by someone. I keep telling people that the Fulani tribe are most liberal and peace loving people but the way they are treated make them to behave some time in an odd manner. All the conflict you find among Fulani and farmers can be resolved amicably. They are friends and brothers, farming and livestock are twine business all over the world. We must look inward to improve the life of rural nomads and farmers before we attain any significant development.
Some segment of the Fulani tribe accused the Buhari’s administration of neglecting Fulani nomads; as such they move their support to Atiku. What is your comment on this?
Well, this is democracy; everyone has the right to choose whoever they want. But let me tell you, the greatest mistake any Fulani man will make is to cast his vote for any other person other than Buhari. To be frank, there are five reasons any Fulani person must vote for Buhari in this election. The first reason is that Buhari is a typical Fulani man who hails from a good family background, with record of discipline and courage to withstand any difficulty in the face of positive change. Secondly, President Buhari was one time the president of West African pastoralists, an umbrella body for all Fulani organisations in the subcontinent. During his tenure, he insisted on the unity of Fulani and proposed the creation of grazing routes across member countries as well as insisting that Fulani should have freedom of movement with their cattle in any part of West Africa. Thirdly, Muhammadu Buhari is a practicing cattle rearer. Presently, Buhari has no less than a thousand cows in his farm. Fourthly, he facilitated and mediated the controversy of grazing law enacted by some states. Lastly, Mr. President is presently working to ensure that there are new designed grazing routes in Nigeria as part of his effort to avert farmers /nomads’ conflict. For goodness sake, for someone who has done all these for his people, what else do they want? Let me tell my brothers Fulani that the president is aware of their problems and he is ready to solve them. We need the unity and peaceful co-existence of all Fulani. We care much about their welfare and those of their cows.
It is a well known fact that some Northern organisations withdraw their support from President Buhari on the ground that he concentrated his development projects in one part of the country , leaving the North in war and starvation. What is your take?
This is one of the major the problem of Nigerians, what is wrong if Buhari chooses to start his project from South, West or East. I think the bottom line is that whether right or wrong what is important is performance and dedication to duty. I believed those organisations misunderstood the style and approach of Buhari’s development programmes. After all, what is concentration of projects here, it is a constitutional issue. The entire projects plan or those executed are contained in the budget. Where are the northern senators when this budget was approved? Was it not the National Assembly that is responsible for appropriation of funds? I think their argument is baseless and has no ground. These organisations must have their agenda and mission but they hide under the banner of projects to criticise Buhari. Whether they support him or not, it is the citizens that vote not organisations so let them go to anywhere.
You are from the industrial sector, where the opposition parties criticised Buhari the more for not doing anything to revive the fallen industries. Are they justified?
Whoever faults President Buhari on Industrialisation is a cynic. Of course, there are possibilities of making mistakes here and there, but one cannot deny the fact that there are significant improvements in this area. Let’s take Agro allied industries for example. Buhari administration disbursed billions of naira to revive textile industries between 2016/2017, through Bank of Industries and BOA. Special concessions were given to manufacturing industries apart from newly established industries in Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and Kaduna. In fact it has never happened before; throughout the 16 years of PDP administration we did not see that. Today, more countries have been trooping into Nigeria to invest because of the confidence they have in Buhari’s administration, especially in the fight against corruption.