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Mohammed Bello Tukur: Insensitive or provocative appointment or both?

Buhari appoints spokesman for Fulani herdsmen as Secretary Federal Character Commission

President Muhammadu Buhari has on Thursday appointed Mohammed Bello Tukur, the Legal Adviser of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) as the Secretary of the Federal Character Commission.

Tukur acts as a spokesman for MACBAN, which is the main pressure group for Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria. He usually does the rounds on national TV promoting the cause of the herders and acting as an apologist for the deaths and devastation they have caused across the country.

Instructively, Buhari is a life patron of MACBAN and has been accused of failing to act decisively in reducing herdsmen-related violence. The president once described their killings as “farmers attacking herdsmen”. The Global Terrorism Index described Fulani militants in 2015 as the fourth deadliest terror group in the world, behind Boko Haram, Isis and al-Shabab.

You would’t know it observing Buhari’s inaction about a group that has sacked entire communities in Benue State and the southern part of Kaduna State, as well as parts of Plateau, Nasarawa and Kogi States.

Buhari’s appointment of Tukur is at best insensitive to the victims of Fulani herdsmen violence and at worst provocative. The president, who a former member of the House of Representatives in Plateau State accused of not caring about the victims of the herdsmen because he is Fulani, has always shown on whose side he is on. In 2000, following another round of violence involving herdsmen, Buhari led a delegation to then governor of Oyo State Lam Adesina, asking: “Why are your people killing my people?”

In 2003, Wikileaks reported a conversation with then Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu in which he said Buhari’s “ethnocentrism would jeopardize Nigeria’s national unity. Buhari and his ilk are agents of destabilisation who would be far worse than Obasanjo”. Buhari was at the time running for president against President Olusegun Obasanjo.

It is with a cruel sense of irony that Tukur should be appointed to the Federal Character Commission by Buhari. The FCC is there to give effect to the “federal character” provisions in the Nigerian Constitution: “The composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies”.

The president’s conduct in dealing with the violence from Fulani herdsmen has done little to promote national unity, especially as there is a wide perception of bias from him. The appointment of Tukur seems to be saying to Nigerians that he is putting the agenda of Fulani herdsmen ahead of national interest.

With people like Buhari and Tukur at the helm, there is little hope of bringing an end to the ancient and outdated practice of herding cattle across the country by foot, which brings the herdsmen into conflict with farmers when the livestock destroys crops. While most sensible Nigerians are calling for cattle to be raised in ranches, the federal government is planning this year to “demarcate 6,000km cattle routes across the country”.

With little regard for public safety or the lives of Nigerians, the Buhari regime continues to put cows before human lives and Mohammed Bello Tukur, one of the strongest advocates for this dangerous agenda has been brought into government.

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