On September 10, 2022, the former emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi ll was elected head “Hooreejo” of Tabital Pulaaku International, a powerful Fulani cultural organization. TPI has held his General Assembly at the hall of the International Conference Center in Abuja, Nigeria. The meeting was attended by many influential Fulbe from all over West Africa and the diaspora. Among the high profiles members of the Fulani community and dignitaries who were present at the event were the distinguished Senegalese scholar and president of the Academy of Senegalese languages, Dr. Fary Silat Ka, the Malian retired general and diplomate Soumaila Cisse, the Nigerian major Hamza al-Moustapha former security chef of the late Sani Abacha former president of Nigeria, and Alpha Barry, former foreign minister of Burkina Faso (2016-2021), and Mr. Abou Sow, former minister of Mali, and President of Tabital Pulaaku Mali, to name a few. Among the notable guests, was also the Malian Imam Mahmoud Dicko, who had received sustained applause and cheers when his name was mentioned by the MC.
Seen by some as a political lobbying entity for the largely dispersed Fulani communities, Tabital Pulaaku’s mission was initially, to promote the Fulbe culture and Pulaar/Fulfulde language. Still, the recent geopolitical events in the Sahel have made the organization focus more on the difficult situation of the Fulani communities throughout the Sahel region. A spiral of violence between Fulani pastoralists and farmers in central Nigeria has been on the rise in recent years. In the Central African Republic, the Fulani pastoralists have been accused of being supporters of the rebel group and were persecuted as a result. In the Sahel region some Jihadist groups, such as the Katib of Masina, are spearheaded by Fulani Clerics, like the example of Amadou Koufa in central Mali. Islamic State in Grand Sahara, an offshoot of ISIS which operates on the try borders between Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, has many Fulani fighters in it its rank. This has created an amalgam and suspicion of the Fulani community which resulted in innocent Fulani being subjected to violence from the Jihadists themselves and the regular Malian army assisted by the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, which use deadly force against innocent Fulani civilians under the false assumption that they are jihadist, or they are harboring the jihadist militants. The most recent event that took place in the village of Moura, where hundreds of Fulani men who were attending a local weekly market were rounded and executed, illustrates the inhuman treatment of the Fulani by the Malian Army (FAMa). In Burkina Faso, the so-called self-defense militia “Koglweogo”, is distinguished by its mass killing of civilians targeting mainly the Fulani sometime with the support of the security forces.
What makes Lamido Muhammad Sanusi II the ideal choice for the office?
The choice of Lamido Sanusi Muhammad Sanusi ll to head Tabital Pulaaku International arouses envy and expectations. It bears as much on his ability to contribute financially as well as on his interpersonal skills on the continent and in international institutions. The management of the organization is counting on the former governor of the Nigerian central bank (2009-2014) to put his influence at the service of the concerns of the Fulbe community, particularly in terms of security and politics.
On September 13th, a couple of days after his election as the “Hooreejo” of Tabital Pulaaku International, he flew in his own private jet to New York where he participates in the United Nations General Assembly which opened on September 18. The former emir of Kano (2014-2020) was invited as a “champion” of the “sustainable development goals.” A function to which the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, had appointed him in 2019. The newly elected president of TPI promised also to discuss the situations of the Fulani communities in the Sahel with the world leaders while at the UN, and he plans to meet several West African presidents in the coming weeks. He planned to quickly request a meeting with the head of the Malian military junta in power since August 2020, Colonel Assimi Goita, as well as his Burkinabe counterpart, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henry Sandaogo Dambia, to plead the cause of the respective Fulani communities.
Will the new team be able to put TPI back on track?
Since its creation in 2001, as an umbrella organization with chapters in more than 16 African countries and the Fulani diaspora around the world, Tabital Pulaaku is illustrious for its inaction. With exception of Mali, Sierra Leon, and Ghana, the rest of the chapters are paralyzed by rivalry and a lack of unified vision and a well-defined mission. Even though the chapters have some autonomy on how they should conduct their businesses based on laws and the realities of each member country, the executive board of TPI was expected to provide some guidance and orientation policy, set a common goal for the chapters in order to achieve harmony in the organization as a whole.
Among the highly divisive issues, is what should be the priority of the organization itself. Promoting the Pulaar/Fulfulde language and preserving Fulani culture and history, or promoting political leaders?
Part of the organization intends to promote the emergence of political leaders and practice a form of entryism within the powers and their parties. With the main objective of strengthening its position as the main Fulani lobby in the sub-region and carrying out actions of influence within the powers and institutions such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and African Union. This view, however, is not shared across the organization and member countries. Take the example of Senegal, where the political elites are largely dominated by the Fulani. With the president, the premier minister, and sixteen members of his cabinet being Fulbe or having Fulani backgrounds, any discourse alluding to ethnicity or language makes them very nervous. The current president of Nigeria, Mohammad Buhari, a Fulani himself (although he doesn’t speak Fulfulde his wife and children do) was among the attendees of the meeting in Mali when TPI was created, and the initial executive board was installed. However, since his return to power in 2015, he takes care to keep a distance from the TPI so as not to fuel suspicions of ethnic favoritism. The same can be said of the rest of the Fulani heads of state, Adama Barrow of Gambia, and Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Bissau Guinea. The Sierra Leonian Vice-President Muhammad Juldeh Jalloh appears more willingly within the organization and its representative in Freetown, Alhaji Juldeh Sowe, a wealthy businessman, and philanthropist.
The composition of the new executive board
The formation of the new management team of the association was the result of intense negotiations between the different political currents as well as between francophones and anglophones, informs Africa intelligence. According to the online news site, the negotiations were conducted at night between the Sheraton Hotel, where the main delegations were staying, and Transcorp Hilton where the wealthy Guinean businessman Alpha Amadou Diallo was staying. This last outgoing president of TPI has also been one of its main financial supporters during the past sixteen years. He spoke at length with his successor, behind the scenes, who insisted on reassuring him and letting him select a part of the new executive board members.
The board was elected in Abuja on September 10, 2022, for a four-year term, along with the president the following executive members were also elected.
1. First Vice President: Alhaji Kadiri Yaya, founding member of TPI and former president of the organization (2001-2007), currently president of TP Cameroon.
2. 2nd Vice-president: Abou Sow. Former Minister of Mali, and currently president of TP Mali.
3. 3rd Vice-president: Professor Fary Silat KA, founding member, and president of ARP/TP Senegal
4. 4th Vice-president: Abdel Razak, TP Sierra Leon.
5. 5th Vice-president, Mrs. Tabara Ba. TP Mauritania.
6. The post of secretary general within the new executive offices of the TPI, has meanwhile been entrusted to LAMIDO ISSA BI-AMADOU, former minister and currently an adviser to the Central African presidency, who has long cultivated links with the rebel groups of the 3R, which makes him a highly controversial figure in the Central African Fulani community.
7. Deputy Executive Secretary General: Abdoulaye Barry, TP Sierra Leon.
8. Madame Asmaou Barry of Mali, is reappointed to her position as general treasurer.
9. Twelve presidents of technical commissions were also appointed by the General Assembly.
Some elected officials, such as the Malian lawyer Hassan Barry, who was entrusted with justice and human rights issues, was not informed in advance. That might be the case of Baba Alfa Umar Konare, the son of the former Malian president, who has been nominated as Secretary General of Tabital Pulaaku International in charge of the Diaspora of America. However, he informed his Facebook followers who rushed to his page to congratulate him that he had declined the job due to his transitional status in North America.