Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto
The Coalition of Fulani Association of Nigeria has disassociated itself from some Fulani unions’ endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari’s candidature in the forthcoming presidential election.
The coalition stated this in Sokoto at the end of it one-day national delegates meeting “to look into the political, social and economic challenges confronting the country’s pastoralists and other ethnic Fulani and the way forward.”
Alhaji Sale Bayari, leader and Chairman, Coalition of Fulani Association/National Chairman Gan Ballah Fulani Der Association of Nisso (GAFDAN) who read the communiqué at end of the event, described the endorsement of President Buhari as dangerous, noting that their associations were social, non-political and non-partisan but aim at preserving Fulani interests.
It also said that the endorsement was not in the interest of the generality of Fulani herdsmen as neither consultations nor meetings were held prior to the decision.
The associations ordered its members to disregard the endorsement and elect any candidate of their choice as guaranteed by the constitution.
It also reminded the herdsmen to consider the credibility and suitability of candidates to be voted for as well as those of their leaders, adding that the latter must be people who have regards and concerns for their plight.
The associations put the number of pastoralists in Nigeria at about 17 million but regretted that the Federal government had never given them a dime whereas it had been disbursing subsidy and support to farmers in past four years.
The coalition also accused the Federal government of not doing enough for Fulani herdsmen, insisting that it had failed to recognise that they were marginalised in its Tradermoni scheme and other initiatives.
The association said the present government had neglected its members by failing to extend its agricultural support to it but instead had been concentrating mostly on grain, poultry and fish farmers while sidelining the pastoralists.
It further explained that the meeting was organised to exchange thoughts and ideas and possible ways of liberating Fulani herdsmen and encouraging them to speak with one voice.
“In view of the above, the Fulani coalition of pastoralist associations here calls on all Fulani pastoralists and herders to disregard these (people) and distance themselves from this fiendish and irresponsible endorsement of any presidential candidate. We need to allow the Fulani pastoralists to pursue and analyse the two candidates especially with respect to the past four years and their agenda for us in the next four years.
“This shall be the basis for voting for any one of them as we shall all go out to campaign from “Riga to Riga” for such a candidate who convinces us that he has our interest as Nigerians.
“Democracy is a game of numbers and Fulani have a vast population to change political issues. We condemn use-and-dump leaders riding on the back of our members for selfish gain,” the communiqué said.
The group also condemned the laws banning cattle grazing, declaring them as unconstitutional, insisting that they violate the rights of the people. It noted that the move to established cattle ranches and colonies was still not a reality.
The coalition further acknowledged that President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar are both Fulani men and urged its members to elect any of them that shows concern for pastoralists’ plight and their economic wellbeing.