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Fulani And Ranches: First Missed Opportunity

“The Federal Government is experimenting with the Almajiri Settlement Programme in all the 36 states of Nigeria, and this is working and currently on schedule: what would work for the Almajiris would surely work for the Fulanis.” Whoa, like I mentioned, thoroughly “prescient.” I did not know I used the term “cattle cities” in 2013 until I recently drudged up this document from my softcopy archival files. The buzzword in 2017 and earlier 2018 is “cattle colonies”

 

By Sunday Adole Jonah

 

The issues in the position paper, called “The Fulani Menace,” that I raised in 2013 were prescient and up-to-the-hilt correct. I must commend the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan for acting in the general interest of the Nigerian state to ensure that the pertinent suggestion proffered as a solution was given the due attention it deserved. If 100 or 200 billion naira was released for the purpose of settling the Fulanis in ranches in the vast open landmasses of Northern Nigeria, then Dr. Jonathan was a great president indeed; the speed with which fund was appropriated for this cause meant that the President recognised the need to douse a potentially-flammable solution in the nick of time. Micromanaging that fund and ensuring implementation of the proposed vast Fulani resettlement programme was up to the chairman of the committee charged with administering that fund; that folk was the former Governor of Benue, Gabriel Suswam. That was a great first opportunity “to douse a potentially-flammable solution” that culminated in the killings at Agatu and those on New Year Day with a small-scale reprisal thrown-in; it is the potential of these “small-scale reprisals” that could lead to a civil war and a break-up of the country. For me, Mr. Sunday Adole Jonah, I was humbled that my idea could generate a 100 or 200 billion naira for the general good: some choice picks from that 2013 position paper are, viz: “Why won’t the Federal Government do something about armed gangs marauding rural population?”; “We must realize that because of environmental concerns, the practice of free-ranging for millions of herds of cattle should be discouraged. It is especially bad because there aren’t really “free” ranges out there for the Fulanis to roam. Nearly every patch of pasture-friendly land is tied in deed to one active rural community or the other”; “To stem the tide of herders’ havoc meted out to hapless tribes and communities, the Federal Government should inaugurate a “ranch-homestead” policy whereby these roaming pastoralists would be settled for good as ranch owners in the vast expanses of land in the sparsely-populated states of northern Nigeria. Interestingly, in order to justify their “Nigerianness”, the Fulanis would be quick to indicate any of these states as their states of origin; the common bond of Islam would definitely help them integrate in these suggested Federal Government-sanctioned ranches across the far northern states”; “Ranch-raised cattle is healthier and better fattened, and this means improved income for the Fulani; a big drawback with free-ranging is that all the accumulated calories that should help a herd of cattle get fattened are burned up as these moos move from place to place. In essence, they become good examples of moos with much sinews and musculature not especially suited for consumption”; “The “ranch-homestead” policy (whence the Federal Government is encouraged to set-up “cattle cities” in the far northern reaches of the country with improved husbandry techniques) would result in a win-win economic situation because fodder for cattle could be easily and cheaply grown by the long-established inhabitants in the very areas where the Fulanis are presently involved in ethnic cleaning, and the ensuing hay trade would benefit all”; “The Federal Government is experimenting with the Almajiri Settlement Programme in all the 36 states of Nigeria, and this is working and currently on schedule: what would work for the Almajiris would surely work for the Fulani” Whoa, like I mentioned, thoroughly “prescient.” I did not know I used the term “cattle cities” in 2013 until I recently drudged up this document from my softcopy archival files. The buzzword in 2017 and earlier 2018 is “cattle colonies.” If I had been invited to make further inputs into the implementation scheme of the ranch homesteads when those billions of naira was released to the presidential committee or something with a nomenclature like that, I would have added a few more bits like the following:

What is desired now more than ever before is a National Ranch Homestead Commission not a National Grazing Reserve Commission

It takes about 3.5kg of silage a day to fatten a cow kept in a ranch; considering that each ranch would be provided with a borehole, producing this amount of silage is no challenge at all. Really, this task would be a great opportunity for agricultural engineers and animal production scientists in my school, the Federal University of Technology, Minna, and all other Federal Universities of Technology and agricultural research institutes across Nigeria

The geological province called “Sokoto Basin” provides the natural choice for the localisations of cattle ranches because, by virtue of its sedimentary character, boreholes sunk there for groundwater exploitation should be comparatively shallow-depth and high-yielding

Opportunities would abound for the dairy industry to blossom around cattle ranches

Opportunities would also abound for veterinary doctors to practice out there “in the field”

The haymaking industries would take a lot of almajiris off the streets

Alas, no one contacted me to make any more inputs and, alas once again, the whole buzz around that 100 or 200 billion bucks has given the EFCC its cherished hard-ons and has given some folks countless nightmare. Worse than a living nightmare are the early dispatches to burial grounds for hapless folks who would have been alive today if Goodluck Jonathan’s desire was implemented with utmost alacrity. Like I am wont to say, “What’s the whole point swimming in billions of naira when my folks are wretched?”

Adole is of  the Department of Physics, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State

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