Monday, February 19, 2018


If it is the matter of desertification occasioned by climate change via global warming that's at the heart of this migration to the South of herdsmen from the North, in search of foliage for their cattle, then a more sustainable solution, other than those already postulated by proponents of grazing reserves, cattle colonies and the likes, without considerations for ranching, is required. To begin with, nothing says that the forests and vegetation of the south wouldn't one day be lost, not only to the forces of nature that had successfully licked up the body of water that used to be where the Sahara desert is today, or that rapidly shrunk the size of the Lake Chad, but also to urbanisation and high population growth rate, besides the fact that wood continues to be a popular source of household fuel amongst the poor due to ever increasing cost of fossil fuels in Third World economies like Nigeria.

There's an ongoing diplomatic conflict between Egypt and her neighbours over issues of rights to the Nile. Under British rule, priority was given Egypt over the other African states through which the Nile also flows. Increased energy demands means that a country like Ethiopia must dam the aspect of the Nile passing through it, with other countries also diverting the waters, sometimes for irrigation purposes, because of existing realities, also because of the realization that not everything the British says or wants is cast in stone, seeing as they don't any longer have dominion, howbeit directly, over these "independent" states.  At one of the meetings organized amongst the affected African countries, Egypt staged a walkout,  but that did very little to change the resolve of the other African countries to insist on their right to do with the aspect of the Nile that passes through their territories as they wish. If the British had always been right, and hadn't done things to suit their own pleasures only, the Middle East would've been at peace, at least to some extent, without the memories of the Sykes-Picot Agreement/Line and the Balfour Delaration for example, in making a case for deflating the notion that just because the British willed something so, it therefore must remain infallible and undebatable, even if it has become illogical and non-consonant with the dictates of our time.

I have raised the above scenario because of the insistence of herder groups like the Miyetti Allah, on grazing corridors allotted

them across Nigeria by the British, a decision that remains doubtful as to how much local input was sought and garnered by the colonising British authorities while they held sway before Nigeria's independence. The reason why those grazing routes have all but disappeared today is because it was never sustainable, and the British aren't gods, that whatever they say, just because it favours a group, must be sacrosanct. The solution therefore cannot be that the farms (to ensure food security) or structures (private or public) or the likes currently sitting on the grazing routes, be removed. It cannot also be that new grazing routes be delineated even if the land is currently being put to no use, seeing as the earlier attempt after many years have failed, and is currently at the root of so much bloodshed, occasioned by constant clashes between farmer and herder communities, many times culminating in attacks on farming communities in Northcentral Nigeria by herdsmen suspected to be of Fulani stock akin to what you find when genocide and ethnic cleansing is committed.

Even that yarn that the breed of cattle in Nigeria and West Africa cannot be ranched holds no water. Are the cattle wild? Does the fact that they can be controlled to move in the direction their herders want not mean that they are and can be domesticated/ranched? The ones been ranched today had ancestors who started off nomadic but had to change their lifestyle to suit the dictates of the time. The only reason I think, why ranching may have not been given the right consideration amongst the stakeholders who currently oppose it, boils down mainly to laziness, as well as that rent-seeking penchant that's almost second nature with Nigeria and Nigerians, that makes improving a product to expand it's value chain, anathema (as typified with the fact that Nigeria currently has no petroleum refinery working to half it's optimum capacity, despite being a crude "oil producing" country). The positives of ranching far outweighs the negative (if any, besides the fact that herders would now be compelled to pay taxes and other dues as a going concern) from ranching, it is even an industry on its own, that is why with all the bloodletting that's associated with rearing cattle in Nigeria via nomadism (which is just scratching the surface of what the whole could entail if ranching is embraced), we aren't even a force to reckon with compared to other nations where ranching is norm and the value chain alone is such that sale of cattle just for the sake of beef consumption (as is with the business in Nigeria) pales in comparison to by-products such as leather, milk, cheese, bone, blood and other derivatives from cattle when ranched, so much so that during one of the episodes of KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS, one of the kids been interviewed by Bill Cosby, erroneously said chocolate is made from cattle, buttressing how so great a role cattle and it's products play in the life of people in the west and developed economies worldwide.

History hardly favours societies that are adamant, unamenable and unwilling to change. If herders in Nigeria, including Fulani, within and outside of Nigeria feel they can have their way by force, and they succeed in wiping out all obstacles till they hit the Atlantic in the south and west of Nigeria and Africa, they will eventually find that they'd still have to ranch, either because the cattle would have eaten up all of the foliage left at some point (at unchecked growth rate, with those who should eat such beef redeemed with the shedding of blood already dead) , or global warming will meet up with them to diminish vegetation in the south. Even in farming, age old culture of leaving land to fallow while moving to another to allow it regain fertility, have given way to fertilizers been used on the scarce resource that land has continuously become, to encourage and promote good yield consistently. The days of depending on nature to guarantee rainfall, has given way to irrigation methods to ensure that even seasonal crops can be cultivated and harvested all year round, capped with storage facilities to assure their all year round availability, so why won't the Fulani and other herders in Nigeria and West Africa change with the times, even to and for their own benefit?