Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, led by Bello Abdullahi, ordinarily a cattle breeders’ association has morphed into the equivalent of a terrorist organisation operating without let or hindrance in the public space. Coincidentally, their sense of self-importance has grown in provocative proportions since the Buhari administration took over in 2015. Apart from threatening other ethnic groups and stakeholders in the country, in a rather vexatious manner, its leaders recently declared that ‘‘Nigeria belongs to Fulani’’ and that the ‘‘Fulani will rule forever.’’ He added that his organisation has concluded arrangements to set up its own security outfit of five thousand men and more to be deployed in all the states in the country.
Such an asinine view would not have deserved a second read but for the implicit complicity of the federal authorities with the antics of these arrogant merchants of violence and mischief. There has been no reprimand from the presidency. Also, the security agencies have conveniently sealed their ears and looked the other way while words capable of inflaming passions are being thrown into the airwaves. Added to this is the entrenchment of settlements of herders inside bushes across the country from where they unleash violence on innocent citizens in communities and highways. Whereas the Federal Government had asked all citizens to surrender their weapons, the order does not affect these murderous herdsmen. They can be seen carrying AK-47s freely while tending their cattle in certain parts of the country. What narrative is the Federal Government promoting? The impression is that the President is willy-nilly promoting the sectarian interests of his kinsmen above and over the national interest. This is dangerous and a threat to the much-needed national cohesion.
Already, different stakeholders have taken exception to the irresponsible and provocative utterances of Miyetti Allah. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 northern states and Abuja has declared emphatically that the ‘‘statement is capable of causing disaffection among Nigerians’’ and ‘‘tearing the nation apart.’’ A few weeks ago, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State called on the Federal Government to ban the influx of herdsmen from neighbouring countries into Nigeria. The Yoruba World Congress (YWC) described the Miyetti Allah statement as ‘‘patently odious and filthy’’ and ‘‘highly explosive and inflammatory.’’ Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has also taken exception to the statement declaring that ‘‘Nigeria as a country belongs to all and not just one ethnic group.’’ So far, there is no indication that the Federal Government has cautioned the group on the volatility of its statements. This is unfortunate in the extreme.
Nigeria as a corporate entity belongs to all the ethnic groups who have lived side by side since the amalgamation in 1914. Even when we fought a civil war from 1967 to 1970, we came together after hostilities and have managed to form a national consensus based on mutual respect. The fundamental rights of all citizens are enshrined and guaranteed in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. No one ethnic group is superior to the other. It is on record that the political parties have always agreed to run inclusive governments. Indeed, during our years of military rule, the need for cohesion was always emphasised. Sadly, since the coming of the incumbent government, there has been a deep disregard for the sensibilities of the constituent parts of the federation as reflected in appointments to sensitive offices at the national level. No government in the nearly 60-year history of this country had been so clannish, insensitive and sectional in appointments, siting projects and body language as the Buhari administration. Retired Colonel Dangiwa Umar summed up the unwritten code of engagement of the Buhari administration in the letter he published two weeks ago. It is this clannishness that has given Miyetti Allah the gumption to make such provocative statements capable of setting the nation ablaze.
In contrast, the now proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) did not threaten the corporate entity of Nigeria as much as Miyetti Allah has done before it received a draconian treatment from the Government. If any organisation needs to be considered a terrorist organisation, it is Miyetti Allah. But the dominance of clannish persons in the security agencies has given the scoundrels free rein to utter inanities in the public space. We call on the Federal Government to call the group to order. Such double standard by the state in dealing with persons and institutions sow a seed of disunity and distrust and lack of faith in the continued existence of the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari should redeem his image in the remaining three years of his administration. He has frittered away the goodwill, which brought him to power in 2015. He has allowed rapacious elements to hijack the reins of government to foist a sinister agenda on the people. Murderous herders have remained a constant security threat to lives and property in the country. Despite the freeze on interstate movements, the foot soldiers of Miyetti Allah have traveled to other states thus increasing tension in the land.
Finally, we call on Miyetti Allah to concentrate on cow rearing business, which it registered itself for. If they continue to threaten people, there could be unforeseen repercussions from other stakeholders in the country. Certainly, that would be unfortunate. We need an atmosphere of peace, security, and mutual understanding to thrive as individuals and as a country. The security agencies should place Nigeria first and ensure the corporate existence of the nation. Nigeria as a country will outlive us all. However, the roles of individuals, good and bad will be part of our national history. How the President wishes to be remembered is dependent on how he pilots the affairs of the country from now till the handover date in 2023. He should, as President of the country and patron of pastoralists, ensure that provocative statements receive punitive sanctions from the arms of the law.
This Guardian Newspaper Editorial was published on 15 June, 2020