Leadership and dearth of people’s policy
Considering the current situation in the country as it borders on the struggling economy, insecurity, unemployment and poverty among others; it is hard to explain why the political leadership, at whatever level have not being able to impress the masses who live in sufferance with a cushy lifestyle through policies that provide basic human necessities. Notwithstanding the fact that thinkers and writers down the ages see leadership as in the eyes of Plato who once remarked that idealists see leadership as steering the ship of state in the right direction. While Weber believes that leadership should embrace the ethic of responsibility and for Machiavelli, realists see it as ability to seize the horse of history by the tail and lever yourself onto its back.
In whatever nature or definition one sees leadership, everyone can agree that when leadership decide to pursue an unpopular agenda that does not positively affect the lives of the masses, it is absent and insensitive. Of course, one of the set-backs gripping Nigeria over the years is the extent to which the political leadership offer generous policies, coloured with ethnic or religious sentiments, that help to sow seed of discord among members of the society.
The other day, while taking over from his predecessor, the new minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mahmood Abubakar promised to prioritise the contentious and controversial National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) by establishing 109 farm estates in the senatorial districts in the country. Without any prejudice, the programme is seen by many as the pet project of President Muhammadu Buhari administration. Despite the programme being designed to promote all sorts of fancy equations, the masses regarded it as the voice of Jacob and body of Esau affair. Indeed, there is nothing more pernicious than for a ruling government to vigorously push a goal that seems set to destabilise society. This is because, many Nigerians view the policy as an attempt to acquire territories for Fulani herders across the country. Certainly, unpopular policies have caused the special relationship between the people who voted the political leadership into office go through many rough patches over the years. For instance, the frequent increases in the prices of petroleum products and the hike in Value Added Tax (VAT) as well as the proposed increase in electricity tariff expose the political leadership of being insensitive to the people’s plight.
It was always inevitable that passion would be running high after the new honourable minister of agriculture rekindled hope for grazing routes or farm estates. Therefore, he should know that right from the onset, public reaction to the programme when it was introduced as RUGA and cattle colony was clearly unwelcomed. Among those who showed resentment, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation the other day expressed their rejection of the NTLP programme through its spokesman, Jare Ajayi who said, “To us in Afenifere, the attempt by the federal government to establish so-called Farm Estate in 109 senatorial districts is another way of imposing the rejected cattle colony and RUGA on Nigerians…” At this trying moment, what Nigerians need is an agenda that would promote peace among communities and growth in the agricultural sector. An attempt to foist the farm estates policy on the people would manifest an ugly situation because it undermines the spirit and letters of the Constitution which reveals that land belongs to the state governors.
The Federal Government’s desire that cattle colony, RUGA or Farm Estates become a reality offers a classic instance of our policy makers being engulfed in crisis of lucidity. It cannot be denied that full security is very important for any nation to survive. But currently, the amount of space used for farming in the entire country has being in a drastic reduction due urbanization and of course the greatest phenomena that is challenging mankind the world over is climate change. Yet, the ruling government is bent on creating cattle routes and farm estates across the country. I hope the federal government is aware of the fact that in the coming decades, there will be more mouths to feed but lesser fields to farm on? Even at that, the Buhari administration’s aggressive drive for a policy to obtain large expanse of land for a business that experts have measured its profitability that there is no greater testimony than in ranching is surprising.
If one may ask, why have the ruling government suddenly become a government of favouratism to cousins from a neighbouring country and people who are doing their private business or certain religious faith or culture? Without mincing words, nepotism is an important part of the answer. But seriously, the truth is that Nigerians do not fully understand how things got out of shape. The foregoing are clear enough to know that poor political leadership has led the nation to suffer insecurity, economic stagnation, and corrupt public services among others. Institutions that ought to uphold the rule of law, such as the courts have been greatly influenced by no other than the political leadership. The recent summoning of six judges by the Chief justice explains the rate at which poor political leadership has corrupted the system.
It is high time Nigeria’s political leadership see cattle rearing as a private business. Therefore, no other remedy but ranching as an option for the business. Also, there should be no room for ethnic based favour. At all times, security of lives and a people oriented agenda should be vigoriously pursued for the benefit of all because the biggest engine for economic development is to make sure the people are happy and society safe.