Great merits in ranching
With abject poverty and purposelessness of leadership so glaring to the rest of the world, not many would blame the US President, Donald Trump for heaping derogatory remarks on our very essence as creations of God.
Our nation is more endowed than most nations in the world. It would have been more like heaven on earth if what we have in Nigeria were to reside in the territories of a more purposeful people. Nigeria has no business being categorised as a poor nation, were our destiny to have been in the hands of patriotic and intelligent leaders.
Our nation is today enmeshed in a variety of serious security challenges. That between herdsmen and farmers is avoidable. Clashes between so-called Fulani herdsmen and farmers have claimed so many lives in some regions of the federation. It is not as if there are no possible solutions.
One possible solution in the affected states or regions is to decide against cattle rearing in their territory.
The problem here is that the constitutional right of the individual to do legitimate business in a Nigerian territory could have been infringed. There was a call by some leaders in the North for cattle herders to return to their region of origin, a call that was promptly described as divisive by some southern leaders.
This inevitably leaves us with a second option which is for the herders to take their cows into some enclosure pending such a time when there is an agreed solution on what to do by the leadership of the nation, which includes those at the federal as well as those at the state and local government levels.
The assumed option of creating some kind of settlement for the herders and their cows-RUGA-has been highly controversial and greeted with apprehension in some regions of the federation. This apprehension or objection has intruded the thinking of many.
The failure of proponents of the idea to educate or enlighten the public about such a proposal has not, in any way, helped matters The fear among the Yoruba, in particular, has been that releasing their land for settling cows amounts to inadvertently extending the influence of the Fulani to the territory of the Yoruba. As these herders and their leaders are mostly Fulani, their assumed motive has been described as an attempt at fulanisation of state and society. The current Nigerian leader, President Muhammadu Buhari is Fulani and perceived as a Jihadist by his critics.
There is a historical edge to the apprehension of the Yoruba of the South-Western Region, a history of Fulani expansionist adventures. It has not been lost on the Yoruba that Othman Dan Fodio, founder of the Sokoto Caliphate, had an ambition to forcefully conquer the South and impose Fulani and Islamic ways of life on such a conquered people. That apprehension is understandable and very hard to dispute in the present circumstances.
However, in my candid opinion or assumption, there would still be the need to have ranches and take cows away from the streets, and far away from situations where herders and their cows encroach on the rights of farmers.
Any state or group of states that have established a ranch, in my opinion, do so for the benefit of their own people. The bulk of the workforce will come from where such a ranch is established. In an ideal and civilised society, people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds should be able to live and work together peacefully, without any serious suspicions. Hopefully, such a time will come to Nigeria.
The Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, may have debunked the Fulanisation theory by hinting at establishing a world-class ranch in his state in the very near future.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo did that in the old Western Region, and there had been a top-class Obudu Cattle Ranch for the entire nation. Were our recent leaders to have been forward-looking and purposeful, these ranches would still have been functioning and improved upon. As there would be animals forever, discontinuing established ranches has been the height of idiocy
Ranching of livestock will take thousands of our people out of unemployment. There is more to animal husbandry than what the majority assume. People will be employed to feed, graze, herd, castrate and weigh the animals. There would be those to operate milking machines and maintain housing areas for the animals.
Other duties may include administering medications to the animals as well as checking for diseases and injuries. There will be work for clerical staff and accountants. There could be shareholders and local farmers who would want to grow grass as feed for the animals. There are many useful products that could be derived from ranching cattle and other animals.
There would be no need for our peoples to engage in inflammatory speeches and rhetoric, especially that what we are confronted with in Nigeria today is a national crisis, not isolated in any way. It is a time like this that patriots close ranks in the national interest… For those who would rather prefer the break up of Nigeria via the escalation of current crises, my warning is that the death of Nigeria cannot be a happy one. There would be those who would wish they were never born, never brought children into this world. Other countries of the West African sub-region would wish they were very distant neighbours.
The rest of the world would be confronted with the nuisance of unwanted refugees, even when external busy-bodies might have taken sides in what could be a most devastating conflict.
I would rather agree with Dr. Maurice Femi Oladimeji who spent quality time telling me, all the way from Nigeria, how the diversity of our nation has been its strength. Of course, I will also side with the energetic and patriotic Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, who has been warning whoever cared to listen to the dangers of war.
Akinola wrote from United Kingdom