Published On: Mon, Mar 5th, 2018

NCS is wrong on $1 billion cattle loan

The last meeting of the National Council of State a forth night ago approved the request of government led by President Buhari for $1 billion livestock loan to address the issue of Fulani herdsmen and farmers frequent violent clashes in the country. The august body made up of former presidents and heads of state, and former Chief Justices of Nigeria, concerned by the continuing bloodletting in the country on account of these conflicts obliged to stem the ugly tide.

 

A possible justification for the facility would be extra budgetary government interventions in other areas and sectors in the past such as aviation, textile, SMEs etc. And they may be right to so argue. The proposal for grazing reserves and cattle colonies were ostensibly conceived to benefit from this intervention. But the question is why the NCS and not the National Assembly, which is the constitutional body to approve such request?

Furthermore there is something inherently suspicious about the opaque and complete dearth of details in the request. What will the money being borrowed used for? It is not enough to presume it is for investment in livestock or cattle in one way or the other. Because there is this tendency by our leaders and government to assume that the answer to every problem is money; it is an old and archaic way of thinking.

Throwing money at the problem of herdsmen and farmers is not the solution; unless the problem is proper diagnonised and understood so that the money can be properly channeled to the cause it will become another drain pipe and source of future crisis. The immediate question is why do we have the crisis?

The immediate response is climatic changes and the disappearance of grazing field due to desert encroachment and scarcity of water; there is also the issue of insecurity. So the solution would be how to address this problem through direct investment and environment remediation to ensure that the herdsmen remain in their traditional areas without interfering with the livelihood of others. That is a win-win solution.

But this is not in the estimation of government and the NCS, because of our national malaise for quick fix. The easier part is to throw money at it by buying people’s land for the herdsmen which two decades from now will recreate the situations in Plateau state and southern Kaduna, where indigenes and settlers Fulani are killing themselves.

The fact of ad hoc allocation of monies to sectors of the economy must be decried. We have a budget for 2018 which is currently suffering from lack of requisite attention. What is also worrisome is sometimes such fund allocations might not be effectively deployed as we are not aware that this vote is tied to any specific endeavours. And the logic that this allocation is made for livestock to put an end to herdsmen/farmers clash is spurious.

If this vote is to construct ranches as has been widely canvassed it might make some sense even if it could be argued that cattle-rearing is private sector endeavour and should therefore be pursued under such consideration. And therefore at best this decision remains suspect.

It is regrettable that the NCS is allowing itself to be used for sinister motives without thorough interrogation of the issues. This government has not made any pretense about its agenda toward the herdsmen and it is therefore cowardly for these statesmen to succumb to it. With its dominance by the Hausa-Fulani, the NCS has become a mere rubber stamp for the caliphate.

The proposal to set up colonies in states is even worse than the earlier bill for grazing reserves or routes. Colonies of about 10,000 hectares in every state would make European colonialism a child play and strategically position the Fulani and Islam to take over the country without any resistance. With a combined land mass of states such as Imo and Bayelsa, this will move the Fulani population in west Africa already threatened by desertification into the rest of Nigeria and politically position them to colonise the rest of us.

Cattle-rearing is a private business venture and states with a large cattle producing population should take steps to implement it to demonstrate its workability. Setting a colony within a state with all the paraphernalia of a community is deliberate attempt to re-enact the Plateau debacle of indigene and settle conflict across the country.

In fact during the debate on this issue in the House of Reps a member alleged that the previous government released the sum of N100 billion for this purpose to assist the cattle producing states set up ranches. The veracity of this claim should be established and the money refunded if true.

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