Even in growing up and up till now, I am not sure there is an animal with such an attachment of slavish control as the Fulani cattle. But in a consummate irony of life, this animal that is a victim of such profound abuses; from being dragged on a long tortuous journey from North of Nigeria to the South of Nigeria in all manner of weather vagaries; to the sturdy canes constantly landed on its back to ensure a total compliance by its herders – who in retaliation for their own oppressive conditions under nomadism find a perfect sidekick in the cattle; to the cattle left to die in loneliness and disgorged with such mercilessness by the vultures and other scavengers; to the torture of dying in the hands of butchers who must slice off its throat with such derangement; and then to the heap of being the causatory factors for pulmonary diseases by the red meat movement, even when some of them consume alcohol in gallons.
Despite all these undeserving conducts by men particularly in Nigeria, it has now been robed with the garb of being responsible for all that is wrong with us. It has become the many horn-sutured demon, out to devour the good Christians by the Muslim fundamentalists and the harbinger of communal conflicts in Nigeria. And maybe for the believers of politics of hegemon, this poor animal is the tool necessary to dip the Quran into the Southern river. Interestingly, like the cattle are herded in any direction that suits its herders, the people of Nigeria are being inundated with voices, in pursuit of half-truths and all that are wrong with our polity. The new herdship scholarship abandons facts in pursuit of fictions. Let us in a moment of sympathy for this poor animal try and contextualize the issues properly relying on history and the facts it presents.
A recent study by SBM Intel, as represented in the table and graph below shows that there is increasing conflict between cattle herders and other participants in the agricultural sector in Nigeria.
And in recognition of these rising conflicts, the National Conference set up by Goodluck Jonathan made some recommendations of which included strengthening grazing corridors until there is evolution of the ranching process. We have reproduced some of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference on this subject.
|13||c. Phase out cattle routes and grazing reserves in the long term to lay emphasis on ranching.
d. Bring cattle rustling under control by better policing because it is a disincentive to ranching. In the meantime, States which have large livestock populations should endeavour to maintain grazing reserves.
|a. National Policy on
b. National Policy on
c. National Policy on Development finance
policy linkages to enhance livestock
activities and crop production to achieve price stability
|a. The Presidency
b. Ministry of Culture and Tourism
c. National Institute for Conflict Resolution
d. National Insurance Commission
e. Central Bank of Nigeria
f. National Planning Commission
g. Federal Ministry of Education
h. Federal Ministry of Power
i. Nigeria Police Force
j. Multi-Door Courts
k. Transmission Company of Nigeria
l. Traditional institutions
m. Federal Ministry of Agriculture
|16||c. States Governments should establish grazing zones and improved livestock production systems to reduce communal clashes.||a. National Grazing Reserve Policy
b. Nigerian Science and Technology Policy
c. Fiscal Strategy Paper
|Emphasis the role sustainable
and insurance in
|a. Federal Ministry of Water Resources
b. Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development
c. Central Bank of Nigeria
6.1.2 Policy Issues
What is interesting here is that many of the Southern elites and Christians whether of the majority South or of the minorities in Northern Nigeria, took part in this conference and did not oppose this resolution, but enthusiastically approved them. What then has changed within two years for these leaders? Is it politics or shortsightedness occasioned from conference per diem?
To again look at the unusual, the Goodluck Jonathan regime invested N100 billion Naira as was buttressed at the House of Representatives on its debate of the problem of herdsmen on the 16th day of January 2018, but this issue of accountability did not dominate the resolution of the House of Representatives on the subject. If the government of Goodluck Jonathan invested the sum of N100 Billion Naira in the subject of grazing and ranching, do we assume that Goodluck Jonathan had a gun to his head by the herdsmen when he approved this money that was seemingly expended but misappropriated? The reason we raise this narrative, is for everybody to bear in mind that it was Gabriel Suswam, the former governor of Benue State (the hottest theatre) of the conflict with other governors and persons cutting across the country that were saddled with this project. Let us for simple imagination imagine that this N100 billion Naira was judiciously spent for the purpose it was meant for, does it not raise the possibility that the current mayhem may have been averted? But in our current scholarship of disorder where thieves are no longer bound to be honourable and return that which they have stolen, intellectual hirelings populating the media space will find justification for such financial heist of public fund.
Be that as it may, the fundamental argument that both the herdsmen and their antagonists seem to be in agreement tangentially is the fact that the increasing problem of herdsmen attack against local farmers is traceable to the problems associated with climate change. Much as there is agreement on question of climate change, the antagonists of the herdsmen have gone ahead to put forward another reason. And the reason to them is that the whole project of the herdsmen is a sub-plot of the Hausa/Fulani imperial agenda to Islamize Nigeria. And it is in the strength of this particular objective that Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and a good number of irredentist Southern politicians have found work in the devil’s anvil. And they have found the social media veritable avenue to propagate this belief with such maniacal gusto that even Hitler and Goebbels are in marvels at their capacity at propaganda. But we think the problem is deeper, because to argue that the root cause of this conflicts lies with shrinking natural resources occasioning from climate change for pastoral purposes and imperial agenda discounts with two fundamental issues.
In the first place, the conflict, if anything in the minimum has anything to do with climate chang. This is because to argue so, will mean that as the crisis associated with climate change continues in relation to shrinking forest reserves it will leave us with the belief that the conflict then will move down South with such rapidity as the animals will seek greener vegetation. And this narrative is what has driven Southern political elites to a state of hysterical disorder. And this is where the logic of this argument ends for its obvious shortsightedness. Man is a product of nature. And all his life has battled nature, conquering it as he moved along to arrive in his current state of scientific and technological advancement. To then fall into this current trap of climate change as being responsible for the conflict, is a grave tragedy and testimony of our lack of philosophical understanding of fundamental problems confronting societies.
Secondly, how come in this whole question of animal husbandry that it is only the industry of animal husbandry in Nigeria, and maybe by extension some African countries that was affected by this logic of climate change? For instance, if this argument is to be sustained, it means that Ethiopia which has had more adverse weather condition will rank lower in terms of output of animal husbandry, considering the facts that it has faced much more severe weather circumstances than Nigeria. For instance, the world top ten Goat and Sheep Meat Exporters includes Ethiopia netting an average annual income of $103 million USD and Nigeria is nowhere near this.
Again, a look at the table below of the world top 20 beef exporting countries gives an interesting reading.
|RANK||COUNTRY||2016||% of WORLD|
This table shows Uruguay with a population of less than 6 million people having a share of more than 4% of the total world export of beef. It is not difficult to see what they have done which is the fact that the cattle industry in Uruguay is not relying on Mother Nature to function, but has developed scientific and technological capacity to function within the ambit of modern development. But the problem with the Nigerian system is that her agriculture has refused to modernize and in all ramifi0020cations remained within the orbit of subsistence farming, such that what may appear to be progress is not driven by any scientific tool to increase its productive capacity.
It functions within the ambit of disorder, and that disorder is because of the howling of a middle class and so called liberals who cannot see through the problem even when there are suggestions to move it away from its current disorder. Leadership lacking capacity of thinking its way out of problems, acquiesce to such howling that signifies nothing more than sounds and fury. For instance, in this whole crisis, it has been muted of the need for state intervention in supporting the process of ranching. But many are in opposition to this, particularly Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), as one of its leaders Bishop Nicholas Okoh argued the other day; cattle rearing is a private business and the state has no business to support ranching, anybody who wants to establish a ranch should approach land owners and buy lands to establish a ranch. When he was involved in this mental melodrama, many of his fellow Christians surrounded him, clapping for him. But was he making sense, or was he just trying to be mischievous? We may not need to accuse him of any but only to ask the Almighty Father to forgive him as he may have been limited by his understanding of the role of the state in a capitalist society.
We say this because fundamentally, Bishop Nicholas Okoh’s position which is shared by many southern elites and their social media soldiers is not supported by the modus operandi of capitalism anywhere in the world. It is a universal truth that capitalists wherever they operate, are the children of the state, and if ranching is to succeed with the technology required, cattle owners must be viewed in a new light as not some feudalist but capitalist entrepreneurs who must also enjoy the benefits their fellow members in the capitalist club have always enjoyed particularly in Nigeria. For example, in 2010, under the leadership of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) the CBN gave nothing less than N3 Trillion Naira as bailout funds for the sinking banks to save them from collapse. In 2011, the Federal Government approved N500 Billion Naira as bailout fund for the aviation industry out of which it paid out N120 Billion Naira only to the operators in the industry. Again in 2014, the Federal Government gave out a bailout fund of N213 Billion Naira to the private sector operators in the electricity industry. Further, the Distribution Companies (DISCOs) were given N50 Billion Naira bailout fund for purposes of acquiring pre-paid meters which up till today they have not done. As we write, there is another pending proposal for additional N700 Billion Naira bailout fund by the Federal Government for the electricity industry. The question to ask, are these three sectors of the economy not being run by private entrepreneurs? Or are those opposed to such intervention fund in the agricultural sector, particularly as it relates to ranching have any motive bordering on their faith or they are suffering from plain ignorance?
As can be seen, the logic of CAN and its foot soldiers are ill-informed. This is more so because of all the three sectors that these bailout funds went to, they are what we can regard in economic terms as, employment shrinking fronts. With increasing advancement in Information Technology (IT), these sectors of the economy will more and more rely less on human resources as most services they render will be done using IT platforms. But the reverse side of it is that any intervention fund in agriculture particularly in the area of animal husbandry has a capacity to constantly take more people out of the labour market, thereby increasing the national GDP in all ramifications. For instance, New Zealand and Australia in 2015 earned not less than $4.5 Billion USD from goat and sheep export alone more than Nigeria’s annual budget of 2018. And the multiplier effect of this sector of the economy is enormous. So to then argue as this group of people are erroneously arguing, we have seen is nothing short of suffering from some form of intellectual deficiency. It is correct to argue that the state should not interfere with any sector of the economy, by supporting private sector practitioners, because to borrow from the capitalist logic, the state has no business in business. But it will amount to mischief to support intervention in some places and oppose it in other places.
From available intelligence data, it has been agreed that the herdsmen violence is tailing Boko Haram in terms of fatalities in Nigeria. And a deducible reason from this for those in the corridors of power is the associated problem of small arms floating within the West African corridor, particularly the Maghreb route. Again, this argument for its catchphrase, small arms is very appealing and tantalizing, but it fails to address why small arms have become such available to many people. In our opinion, in any state where small arms have entered some level of high circulation, such a state needs to look at its security architecture and the problem of social injustice which create dysfunctional rebellions. Dysfunctional rebellion in the sense that most of these rebellions are directed by rogue ideologues who their motives border on levying war on the state, businesses or informal sectors with the aim of extracting profit. Because of the emptiness of what they represent, they attract more crowds easily because of their noise, but degenerate very easily to brigands. And this is where they become very useful to sponsors of terror particularly in the Nigerian state where the possession of means of terror and money is an assured chip in the acquisition of power. In this circumstance, those who argue that the herdsmen are sponsored by some people may not be wrong, but where they failed the test is to rule out the possibility that anybody can be a herdsman for the purposes of extracting profit by means of violence from the state. Let us admit the fact that the Nigerian state is weak, not because of anything, but because of the very fact that the Achebean leadership question has been grossly neglected in the process of selection of leadership in Nigeria. Some may jump at Buhari in this regard, but it goes beyond him because for the past 30 years of Nigerian history, at what point can we look back and rejoice or regret that we missed a particular leader?
Recently Femi Adeshina, the Chief Press Secretary to President Muhammadu Buhari decided to ride on the back of the Fulani cattle with the new crisis in Benue State by claiming that the Fulani herdsmen killed more people under the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. But under the currency of the new age, he met a brick wall that portrayed him as inhuman as death ought not to be a question of a game of numbers bearing in mind the sacredness of life as legally and ethically guaranteed. But ordinarily the point he was making was important as it helps to historically show that the problem had been there even under Olusegun Obasanjo, but is now assuming a much more dangerous position for two reasons. One, it is the attempt to replace the narrative of a steady stream of violence on the upward and do make it appear to be something that started with the Buhari administration as a result of the Fulani impetus of occupying the state house. To argue like this fails to then look at what we will regard as domestication of power within regional or religious zones by occupants of such power in Nigeria.
In this hysteria, Southern leaders are leading many Southern states into abandoning the project of animal husbandry as an agricultural policy in a large scale. The way it is today, many governors in Southern Nigerian only wake up and dream of Fulani cattle with sutured head like demons. The cattle have become the simple tool for Islamization of Southern Nigeria. As we have seen, a good number of the Latin America countries that are not as big as most of the Southern states are earning hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign exchange from animal husbandry. But in idiotic shortsightedness and driven by their bigotry to see Islamization where there is none, they are blinded to see the potentials that abound in terms of employment opportunities and fiduciary gains for the people. They make it look as if the North has a God-given right to monopolize the animal husbandry industry. This is myopia at its worst affliction.
But this affliction will not go away because we are all being chased by the sutured Fulani cattle that have become incubus for the Islamization of the country and falling into a narrative that makes it look as if Nigeria is a country of Christianity. The truth is that Islam and Christianity are foreign religions in Africa. And whether it is the crusade or jihad, they both have no right to make each other a fall guy and create sympathy for the other. They have both contributed to the underdevelopment of Africa and remain tools in the hands of foreign powers for the purposes of devastation of Africa. It therefore becomes shameful for anyone of them to distort history and embark on the journey of appealing to primordial sentiments in order to gain followership. Each has never saved Africa and will not save her today or tomorrow. The root of the problem lies elsewhere and it lies on the facts from what we have seen of those countries with huge earnings from animal husbandry that the road to take is the road of scientific and technological resources to conquer nature and justly tap the fruits of its abundance for the greater nurture of man. The road to go is not to place reliance on the vituperative tantrums of religious merchants, media profiteers and ethnic irredentists who their collective failure either as old or the young to proffer a progressive ideology to conquer nature is at the root cause of the current disorder where a common animal has become the source of nightmare to a nation held hostage by profiting cabals.