DR. NURA ALKALI (a Fulani and a consultant physician at ABU teaching hospital, Nigeria) wrote the following:
How ironic that, today, it is the Fulani who lack leaders to guide them and pursue their interests through legal ways. Please, do’n’t mention “Miyetti Allah”, which is a cattle-breeders’ association. I have never owned a cow in my life, and I don’t intend to, meaning I have no business with Miyetti Allah. (“Mi Yetti Allah” means “I thank God” in Fulfulde. I’m referring to the group here, not the literal meaning).
Miyetti Allah claims to represent the Cattle Fulani who live as nomads. That is their opinion. In my opinion, it is the blind leading the blind. Only the blind will insist on living a 17th century life in 2018. 50 years ago, humans conquered space to land on the moon. Others decoded DNA, which advanced the science of animal breeding to levels never before imagined in history. But we still have people pursuing an impossible nomadic lifestyle to raise cattle.
Please, when you travel from Bauchi to Yola, look on both sides of the road during your journey. All you will see are farmlands up to the horizon. The few vacant spots are the rocky hills around the Gombe-Adamawa border, and between Dindima and Kangere, near Bauchi. Farmers avoid them because plants won’t grow there, meaning cattle too cannot graze. And no doubt, beyond the horizon are villages and more farmlands.
Keep in mind that Adamawa and Bauchi are among Nigeria’s largest states. Toro LGA in Bauchi State (6,932 Sq. Km) is larger than each SE state except Enugu (7,161 Sq. Km). The whole of Ebonyi State (5,533 Sq. Km) – which welcomes the proposed cattle ranches – boasts of only 80% of the land area of Toro LGA. And Ebonyi is now in the news for a deadly fight over farmlands with a community in neighbouring Cross-River State. So, is a cattle ranch more viable in Toro or in Ebonyi?
It is northern states that have land for cattle ranches, which by their nature, have enough grass and water all year round – thus removing the need for a herdsman from Jigawa or Sokoto journeying to Ebonyi and Delta states in the dry season in search of pasture. So, why a cattle ranch in Ebonyi, unless Igbos also want to raise cattle? This is what I’m talking about. Beside being blind, Miyetti Allah also thrives on conflicts.
In any case, Town Fulanis like me are in limbo. “Tabital Pulaaku” is solely about Fulani culture, unlike “Afenifere” and “Eze Ndi Igbo” that champion Yoruba and Igbo causes. For the Fulanis, neither the Sultan of Sokoto (who heads JNI) nor the Lamido of Adamawa (who heads Tabital Pulaaku) is an overall Fulani leader; nor indeed, any group.
Sadly, a group of riff-raffs called Miyetti Allah are now mistaken as Fulani leaders.