The Oasis Reporters
April 23, 2018
By Greg Abolo
The news that the Federal Government of Nigeria has backtracked on its plan to establish cattle colonies nationwide as it seeks solution to the long drawn out clashes between herdsmen and farmers, resulting in the killings of hundreds of people and wanton destruction of property across the country, especially in Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Adamawa States ought to be happy news but the gaping challenges left unmentioned make the move slightly suspicious. Especially as it is coming ahead of crucial presidential election in less than nine months.
It is obvious that the political hierarchy in Nigeria is presently constituted by people who happen to be interested parties in the matter. It is clear that the Fulani ethnic group are the cattle rearers who are bent on displacing hapless and unarmed indigenous peoples of Nigeria from their ancestral lands for the Fulani 30 million cows to graze.
Without a doubt, protein from the Fulani cattle is needed as nutritional value for those who love beef. And certainly, nobody wants the death out of starvation or famine for the Fulani cattle. Neither must anyone harbour the thought of killing a single Nigerian for his land or his crops. Either way, mutually assured destruction is to nobody’s benefit.
According to the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd), the government would now focus on the establishment of ranches.
Speaking in Abuja at a stakeholders’ dialogue on the eradication of herders-farmers conflict in Nigeria, he said additional measure put in place by the federal government through his ministry was the setting up of agro rangers.
Now, how practical is this plan enunciated by Lt. Gen. Dambazau (rtd)?
What exactly are the agro rangers going to be doing as most Fulani reject ranching?
“It has further been established that climate change, scarce resources, transborder migration cause pastoralists mainly from other African countries to move through the North to other parts of Nigeria in search of grazing land for their livestock and this constitute the security challenge we are facing today,” he said.
Good to know this, Interior Minister Dambazau. First thing in resolving a conflict is knowing the causative factors and good a thing, Dambazau knows or has discovered.
So if climate change and migration as well as scarce resources are causing this internecine conflict, is climate change reversible or not?
So that cattle herders can remain on their ancestral lands and attend to their business rather than encroaching on other people’s ancestral lands and exterminating indigenous populations.
Dambazau went on in his analysis thus :
“Their movement has brought about clashes, which is invariably affecting the level of food shortage thereby causing food insecurity and this further threatens the stability of our nation. Security is an integral part of livelihood and well-being of the citizenry and we must ensure that these challenges are surmountable.
“The competition for scarce resources has often resulted into a more frequent and destructive conflict than ever. The decade of the 1990s has witnessed the highest number of armed conflicts most of which are consequences of struggle for natural resources.
Imagine this! If there are struggles and clashes over scarce or diminishing resources, what should a serious government do, if not to go about reversing the causes of loss and putting in place robust multiplication processes for resources?
“Herdsmen by nature are nomads who move from one place to another to rear their animals for economic and social survival particularly seeking a place to cater for his animals.
Do people not change lifestyles in new or strange circumstances?
“Similarly, the social standing of the herdsman depends on the number of cattle possessed, just as the status of a man in the society rests on the number of properties on which his social class can be adjudged.
“Thus, the herdsman guards his cattle with jealousy”.
Minister Dambazau, is it anymore about social standing, or economic status?
The big question thus, is with the 30 million cattle social standing of the Fulani herdsmen, how many tins of powdered or condensed milk have they produced to benefit Nigeria?
The Netherlands have 5 million cows according to a research I wrote on in 2016. Yet with it, we have Peak milk brand and other dairy products all over the world.
I also wrote in that paper that while the nomadic Fulani cattle produces one litre of milk per day, the South African cow in a ranch produces 50 litres of milk per day and gives birth every year, unlike the Fulani cow that calves at longer intervals.
Therefore how cost effective is the Fulani cattle?
He went on:
“The incessant resource conflicts witnessed in that nation have resulted in loss of lives, properties and environmental degradation on the strength of this, communal conflicts over land resources are usually fierce with massive destruction of lives and properties as witnessed in states like Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Adamawa and Plateau, etc.
“In order to address the menace, the federal government has not relented its efforts in overcoming the insecurity challenges by proposing to establish cattle ranches.
“In 1966, the northern regional government of Nigeria initiated one of the first measures to respond to the crisis of herders/farmers by establishing cattle ranches but was abandoned by the previous governments.”
The final point Dambazau made should lead to further research on why previous governments abandoned the cattle ranches, or better still, why did the cattle herders abandon the ranches in northern Nigeria?
If there is climate change leading to loss of foliage for cows to graze on in the north, why not regrass the region?
If sunshine is getting fiercer, where is the robust idea to draw out water and flood the soil for grass to grow?
Use the excess sunshine to power massive solar panels, and drill water. My village in the Niger delta has a functional borehole powered by solar panels. This was the first major gain for my crude oil bearing community, powered by the NDDC and the Ibori government at the onset of democracy. We are still drinking the water for almost sixteen years now.
If solar system can work in the Niger delta it will thrive in the Sahel.
Get water and keep the cattle in the North that occupies two thirds of Nigeria’s land mass. Not the densely populated south or the middle belt. Just get your own grass as Brazil is doing.
Greg Abolo is a public affairs analyst, publisher and writer.