In fact, is it not trite that while the northern elites have adopted modern changes by living in palatial homes, rather than huts; driving state of the art cars as opposed to riding on horse and camelbacks; and acquiring Western education in preference to being illiterates, which are in contrast with the lifestyle of their forebears that is the excuse for their insistence on maintaining the status quo of nomadic herdsman-ship inherited from their ancestors? Yet only the talakawas or poor masses are being encouraged by the elite to remain stuck in the past by continuing with the ancient practice of nomadic cattle rearing which does nothing more than to keep the poor in perpetual servitude to the wealthy whose cattle the herdsmen are apparently looking after. Think about it!
Does a cattle herdsman who is nomadic and can’t gain Western education have a pathway to exiting poverty?
Would exposing the critical masses to the concept of ranching so that they can have the opportunity to acquire education in order to advance to the next level of prosperity in the manner that the elites have transformed their lives from dwelling in huts to living in modern homes, and from relying on horses and camels as means of transportation to motor vehicles not be better for society?
Could nomadic cattle-herding be a tool for sustaining the feudal system whereby the poor would continue to serve the wealthy? In my opinion, the tragedy of nomadic cattle herding, (for lack of better terminology) which is a practice almost exclusive to a particular ethnic group is a candidate for a case study by social scientists in the manner that the Igbo apprenticeship system or culture was studied in Harvard University as a business model. The finding of Igbo apprenticeship which is as old as the Igbo nation turned out to be similar to the concept of venture capitalism now prevalent in the industrialized and advanced society and which only emerged in the past few decades.
The negative and positive(assuming there is) effects of nomadic cattle herdsman-ship in Nigeria, may be compared and contrasted with that of Kenyan to see how poorly our leaders have performed in the management of that critical aspect of the lives of Nigerians engaged in that practice who are preponderant of a particular ethnic stock.
Below is the summary of a study titled “The value of pastoralism in Kenya: Application of total economic value approach” and conducted by
D. M. Nyariki & D. A. Amwata:
“The findings of this study show that Kenya’s pastoral sector has an economic worth of US$1.13 billion with the livestock sector and non-livestock sector accounting for 92% (US$1.04 billion) and 8% (US$0.0903 billion), respectively. The annual national pastoral livestock offtake was valued at US$0.189 billion, while the annual meat offtake was estimated at 154,968 tonnes, valued at US$0.389 billion. The national annual meat consumption was estimated at 553,200 tonnes, of which pastoral meat contributed 154,968 tonnes or 28%. The TEV approach integrates the many aspects of economic value contributed by pastoral systems, including market and non-market goods and services that are usually not accounted for. An accurate estimate of the contribution of pastoral production can be instrumental in lobbying for enhanced investment in the pastoral areas to boost environmentally sound development.”
I won’t be surprised if there is no similar analysis of animal husbandry in Nigeria.
Nevertheless, looking at what Kenyans have been able to accomplish through dexterous management of her pasture in contrast with the Hobbesian state of life that a similar endowment (abundance of cattle) has instigated in our country, my heart breaks into a million pieces.
Commendably, some governors in the north particularly, Kano state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje are reportedly taking positive steps towards establishing ranches that would help in reducing open grazing and thus cancel the risk that the lifestyle or practice poses to his kinsmen. With the southern governors being sensitive to the current volatile political atmosphere pervading our country, they nicely presented the rationale for the call for the banning of open grazing in southern Nigeria thus:
“development and population growth have put pressure on available land and increased the prospects of conflict between migrating herders and local populations in the South. Given the above scenario, it becomes imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the South, including cattle movement to the South by foot.”
Since the above proposal appears to me (and l guess all men and women of goodwill) to be quite justifiable and justifiable, (as reflected by Kano state venture into ranching) l was aghast by the rather incredulous, caustic, and reductive statement credited to some northern elites, particularly, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan who without addressing the more dangerous crisis of herders-farmers crisis, challenged the governors to first restructure the political systems at the state level before calling on government at the national level to do the same. The point that the senate president seems to be making is that the governors should remove the logs in their eyes before asking the president to remove the speck in his vision. And my deductions from senator Lawan’s spontaneous comment are that he recognizes that political restructuring is imperative for our country to move forward. But his position is that charity begins at home. So the governors should bell the cat.
In which case he is basically demanding that the tail should wag the head? Is that not standing logic on its head in a political environment where constitutional power is centralized and somehow monopolized at the center via concentration of the functions of government in the exclusive list? Is it not the reason for the call by the 17 governors and indeed most Nigerians including the committee set up by the ruling party APC and led by embattled Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai for the devolution of power from the exclusive and concurrent lists to enable states to be autonomous? I would like to assume that Mr. Senate President’s comment which was made on the spur of the moment is sentimental rather than objective. And it may also be a Freudian slip, like president Buhari’s 97% versus 5% hypothesis about Igbo votes and appointments into public offices. That is because it betrays the senate president’s perhaps unconscious bias against political restructuring which is clearly the desire and refrain on the lips of most Nigerians that are passionate about one Nigeria.
Coincidentally, political restructuring is a task that NASS is also currently undertaking via the constitution review committee that the deputy senate president, Ovie Omo-Agege is leading.
With the negative bias of the senate President via his response to the 17 southern governors’ demands established, Nigerians can only imagine what the outcome of the 1999 constitution review exercise would be. We need no soothsayer to convince us that it would likely be another futile effort like the 1994/5 and 2014 national and constitutional conferences that gulped billions of naira and consumed enormous human efforts after which they were not adopted or implemented as they are still gathering dust on the shelves of national archives.
The Attorney General of the federation and minister of justice Abubakar Malami has also joined the fray by further muddying the water by comparing the mayhem caused on lives and livelihoods by the violent herders which prompted the ban on open grazing in southern Nigeria that he has claimed as illegal. He even compared the open grazing ban to the hypothetical banning of the sales of automotive spare parts (mainly by Igbos) in the northern parts of our country.
Fittingly, the chairman of southern governors forum, who is also the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, and a legal luminary, by virtue of being a former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA has responded to the Attorney General’s claim in kind. I totally agree with Akeredolu’s admonition and advise Malami that he should go to court to prove that the ban is illegal. That is the way constitutional matters are resolved in civilized climes not through violent repression by government agencies such as the police, armed forces, and EFCC or a resort to self-help by the aggrieved via banditry. I can recall how the issue of the oil/gas derivation principle based on the seashore (contiguous or not) was fought fiercely in court between opposing parties during the nascent stages of our return to multiparty democracy in 1999 until it was resolved. The refusal by Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime to remit Lagos state’s federal revenue allocated to it simply because Lagos state unilaterally created Local Government Development Authorities, LCDAs was also fought and resolved in court.
It is also still fresh in my memory how the 2/3 majority of our population calculus or equation of the number of Nigerians that must vote for a candidate to be declared the winner in a presidential election was settled in the supreme court.
After its resolution through the victory won in court by Richard Akinjide in favor of the NPN candidate, Shehu Shagari, the challenger, UPN leader, Obafemi Awolowo had to concede defeat and subsequently, the rule became enshrined in our country’s constitution.
So I welcome the engagement of the southern governors and the federal government in court since such a process would enrich our jurisprudence and fine-tune our laws.
In any case, the southern governor’s forum was only affirming a decision that had been reached in 2018 and announced in a communique by the National Economic Council, NEC comprising of all 36 state governors and the FCT including the minister of finance and governor of the central bank of Nigeria (CBN); subsequently by northern governors forum in February 2021, and by Nigerian governors forum in the same month, before the southern governor’s forum on May 11, 2021.
It is noteworthy that when the southwest states in the country decided to set up AMOTEKUN- a regional vigilante group to protect the region from the onslaught of marauders, the Attorney General also expressed similar reservations by claiming it is illegal. That is despite the fact that HlSBAH and Civilian JTF – similar vigilante outfits had been set up in Kano and a handful of other northern states long ago. What justifies such double standards of what is good for the goose not being good for the gander?
Another area of focus in the governor’s communique that would excite the long-suffering citizens of the southern region who have become crestfallen, if not weary of subjugation akin to being second class citizens in their own country is the issue of inequality reflected by the apparent negligence of the federal character principle enshrined in the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.
That is particularly with respect to the appointments of heads of all the critical security agencies in the country ranging from the armed forces to the police force as well as the Directorate of State Security, DSS, National Intelligence Agency, NIA, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Customs, and even the immigration services currently being monopolized by the people of a particular ethnic and religious stock which is a negation of the spirit and letter of inclusiveness enshrined in the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as a counterpoise or cure for the fear of dominance by any majority tribe or ethnic nationality which unfortunately is currently deemed to be the case. For instance, when a security council meeting is held today with President Buhari, the minister of defense or national security adviser, the meeting might as well be conducted in vernacular, not English as 99% of those in attendance would be people of a particular tongue and tribe. Is that not scandalous in a country of ethnic nationalities in excess of 250 compelled by the British in 1914 via amalgamation to fuse together with three major ethnic nationalities -Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo forming the tripod on which the nation has been standing? It is astonishing that a cursory look at the present configuration of our country formed by the British merchant Frederick Lugard would reveal that the nation’s current security architecture appears to be anchored only on one leg instead of a tripod which it was barely a decade ago. It is looking like that because the other two legs- Igbo and Yoruba now appear as if they have been infected with political gangrene or leprosy.