Fulani socio-cultural group, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), has suffered a crack over its endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari for the 2019 presidential election.
MACBAN had on Thursday at its 2018 Annual General Meeting in Abuja, endorsed the President’s re-election bid and promised to mobilise 20 million votes for him because of what it termed the numerous achievements recorded by his administration in infrastructural development, youth employment and security.
But, some concerned leaders and members of the group, yesterday, dissociated themselves from the purported endorsement. The splinter group said the so called endorsement was done without consultation with members of MACBAN and therefore cannot hold. In a statement signed by one Alhaji Danburam Mafindi, the group argued that if the leadership of MACBAN had come out to support the President in their personal capacities they wouldn’t have been bothered, but expressed worry that the endorsement was done on behalf of all members without consultation.
The statement read in part: “The endorsement allegedly by MACBAN is worrisome as there was no such initiative nor discussions or agreement by the Board of Trustees, National Executive Council of the association or a unanimous decision by any congress of the association. It was an executive fiat that was imposed by the president of the association and few other members.
“It is important to note that MACBAN as registered by the relevant regulatory agency is a non partisan association that is not allowed to indulge in partisan political activities. It is therefore a clear violation of laws as stipulated by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as covered with registration number RC. NO- 3500 “This endorsement is putting the noble objectives of the association into jeopardy and is a trigger for chaos as it has the potential of causing disenchantment among many of our members with diverse political inclination. Our teeming members are not in agreement with this endorsement and it therefore null and void. It has no basis in any conscious discourse as it is a deliberate attempt to trample on the inalienable democratic rights of our members.
“There is no way an association that is faced with the enormity of challenges as faced by MACBAN today would come out and give an express endorsement for a candidate without recourse to our existing realities as herders in the country. We reject this endorsement in its totality and it therefore stands null and void. “We call on the leadership of MACBAN to come out clean and explain what informed this ‘Greek’ endorsement as it has come to us as a surprise! Politicians should be wary of such endorsement as it has no value to add to their fortune whatsoever.
Only the endorsers stand to benefit. We are therefore calling on our members to come out en mass to exercise their democratic right by electing candidates of their choices in the forthcoming elections. Don’t allow anybody to intimidate you into submitting this God-given right. Follow your conscience and vote for candidates you believe can deliver on your expectations.” Meanwhile, a cross section of pro-Northern groups and individuals, who spoke with our correspondents on the issue, said though it is the right of Miyetti Allah to endorse any candidate it wishes, its action will not sell President Buhari to the entire North. Arewa Youth Conservative Forum (AYCF), which spoke through its president, Yerima Shettima, said the situation in the North does not warrant any endorsement of the present administration or President Buhari. Shettima said those who endorsed Buhari only collected money to do so, adding that the endorsement will not sell in the North.
His words: “We cannot continue to do one thing over and over again. Pretence and lies cannot take us anywhere, you cannot hoodwink people. What happened in 2015 cannot happen in the North again because the North has come of age. So, we cannot be bulldozed by this attitude of giving money for endorsement at the expense of our vision. “The present situation in Northern Nigeria is nothing to write home about.
The issue of insecurity and killings is so high in the North, more than any other part of the country. So, people have decided that they cannot continue doing one thing over and over again. The endorsement is a hard thing to sell in the North today. “The endorsement is only for those that can be bought over because the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government has enough money to throw around. It is natural that you begin to hear reactions just the way it happened in Northern Elders Forum (NEF). Some individuals will just sit down and endorse Buhari. The same thing happened even in Afenifere; we are seeing a macabre dance, but on the D-Day, there will be surprises.” Elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, who also spoke on the issues, said Miyyetti Allah, endorsed President Buhari because he is its grand patron. He noted that Buhari has never hidden his closeness with the group and as such the endorsement was not a surprise. “He (Buhari) had been their grand patron, what the endorsement shows is that the relationship with them is still very much intact. He has also never denied his closeness with the group,” he said. Secretary of Yoruba Councils of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, who corroborated, Yakassai, said: “We have always known because we were told that President Buhari was the grand patron of Miyetti Allah since he assumed office.
So, in any case Miyetti Allah has been part of his constituency. So, to me I don’t see anything new. “But my anxiety is that in spite of the killings, herdsmen crisis, kidnapping of people for money and destruction of farms, among others, President Buhari is yet to say anything. But it is not surprising that they endorsed him. “Ordinarily, the endorsement should have been a minus because serious minded people will now begin to wonder why the President has been silent on the herdsmen crisis as I don’t think it is going to have any impact in 2019.” Spokesman of pan Yoruba group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, who described the endorsement as a political strategy, said it might be in return for the President’s support for the group. His words: “May be they want to deliver a herd of cows; it is a strategy of sort by Miyetti Allah in return for President Buhari’s support, but it is an awakening call for Nigerians. If Buhari is re-elected, we have not seen anything yet. So, none Miyetti Allah members should rise against it.” National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) South-West, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, who also spoke with Saturday Telegraph, said Miyetti Allah’s promise is an indication of Buhari’s linkage with the group.
He charged Nigerians to sift between the wheat and shaft to see who is actually interested in the development of the nation and the party that is interested in its continued decimation. “Buhari came into office on the crest of revamping the economy, ensuring security and fight corruption, but what is the situation today? Zamfara is in turmoil; our soldiers are killed daily in the North-East even as herdsmen continue to rampage in the Middle Belt and the South. The economy is in comatose as over 20 million people have lost their jobs.” But, the National President of the Nigeria Traders Harmonized Union, Dr Bature AbdulAziz, who said that members of Miyyeti Allah are entitled to endorse a candidate of their choice, averred: “Miyyeti Allah are of Fulani extraction and are true Nigerians who have right to vote and be voted for and as such have right to endorse a candidate of their choice .”
Bature, who reminded Nigerians that Miyyeti Allah was not the first group to endorse Buhari or the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, added: “There is no big deal about the endorsement; only enemies of Buhari are trying hard to turn it to an issue.” Secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Anthony Sani, on his part, said: “As I have said over and over again, the two major presidential candidates, namely, President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, are from the North and Fulani Muslims. As a result, any endorsement cannot reasonably be on politics of identity, but based on what such group believes can serve the country better. But, we must note that in democracy, what matters most is majority, which has both its say and way, while the minority only has its say.
“I do not know the electoral values of the Miyetti Allah and the extent of their group goal, group cohesion, group coherence and even group conspiracy, especially when regard is paid to the fact that Atiku is also of Fulani ethnic extraction and also a Muslim. As a result, I cannot predict the effect of the endorsement on the outcome of the elections. But I am happy with the level of political awareness, and hope those groups, which endorse political parties will mobilize their people to make judicious use of their democratic rights and ensure that votes count, so that the emerging leaders will be accountable to the people.”