By Magnus Onyibe
As Nigerians, our common goal should be shared prosperity. Since herdsmen are part of Nigeria, we must all do everything to integrate them into the loop of a prosperous Nigeria.
And one of the most appropriate and universally acknowledged pathways to prosperity , as validated by Bill Gates, the world’s richest man and founder of Microsoft is through innovation.herdsmen
Not just by harnessing natural resources like oil/gas, solid minerals or engaging in animal husbandry using crude methods , but by leveraging science and technology in the ways production of goods or service delivery are carried out.
The search for solution should be devoid of ethnic or religious attachments but driven by the objective of converting an existential crisis into an economic opportunity.
In my considered opinion, that is the clearest pathway to a sustainable solution to the menace of wanton killings by herdsmen that is unduly sapping the energy of the country’s security agencies.
It does not help that our President, Muhammadu Buhari keeps attributing the human carnage arising from herdsmen killings in the Sahel and plateaus areas of our country to the drying up of lake chad and influx of displaced Libya trained militia, because it is way beyond that.
The havoc being wreaked on unarmed Nigerians by herdsmen militia who are systematically hewing down and hacking to death fellow Nigerians is a socioeconomic issue that should task the creativity of our development economists and strategists.
It is based on the strength of the above precept that I’m proposing a concept that l would like to refer to as FulaniCapitalism as a viable solution to the seemingly intractable herdsmen killings that have practically put our country in perpetual mourning mode as hardly any day passes by without deaths arising from killer herdsmen.
Before proceeding to the nitty gritty , permit me to introduce you to the concept of FulaniCapitalism which is a variant of Africapitalism-a pseudo or hybrid business/social investment model being promoted by Tony Elumelu, chairman of HEIRS Holdings.
As earlier stated, the underpinning philosophy behind FulaniCapitalism is similar to the raison det for Africapitalism, which is the creation of job opportunities for Africans by Africans in ways that the host communities of the business are not exploited but empowered by the presence of the corporate entity.
A sort of symbiotic relationship between entrepreneurs and host communities .
FulaniCapitalism is conceptualized to catalyze and drive the concept of cattle ranching to discourage or displace the current nomadic practice of animal husbandry. It is so named because it is the Fulani that are undeniably, inherently the predominant pastoralists in Nigeria.
The whole idea is to overtly or covertly persuade the well heeled or deep pocket Fulani men and women to strategically invest in ranches to facilitate the change of the lifestyle of the nomadic herdsmen and offer them more reliable as well as better return on their investments and efforts.
Given the strategic role that cattle ranches, (as opposed to nomadic animal husbandry) can play in stemming the ugly tide of human carnage arising from herdsmen killings , investing in ranches (confining animal husbandry within a farming space ) by successful men/women of Fulani extraction needs no further elucidation because it is both a social and economic investment.
By this, l mean that rather than wait for government to set up ranches, Fulani men and women of means (who are in their legions) should make deliberate and conscious efforts to invest in ranches which would serve as sanctuaries for cows and those who tend them because it is financially rewarding. Aside the financial returns , it would serve as a veritable means for safeguarding the livelihood of their people whose mainstay is animal husbandry,and which they are still practicing in the same nomadic and primitive manners that their forebears did centuries ago and now constituting a threat to peace and security.
So far the balance of loss of human lives is in favor of the herdsmen who are rampaging all over the country, particularly the Sahel and plateau (for their green pastures) and leaving sorrow, blood and grief in their trail.
But the first mover advantage which the herdsmen are currently enjoying would not be perpetual, if and when their victims’ backs eventually get literally pushed against the wall and they begin to fight back. In light of the frightening prospect of the conflict escalating to unimaginable proportions , how do we avert what seems like an inevitability if the killings by herdsmen go on unabated ?
I’m convinced that Nigeria can move from the current state of chaos to community through a strategy of shared social investments . That’s assuming we are ready to change how animal husbandry is practiced by leveraging science, technology and capitalism.
It is the case that I’ve tried to make through the FulaniCapitalism initiative because as the saying goes, ‘a stitch in time saves nine’.
Although Hausa/Fulani men are known to be great entrepreneurs, (Aminu Dantata, lsiaku Rabiu etal who were great merchants of yore) they seem to be under estimating the money spinning or commercial potentials of their cattle assets, if properly harnessed through innovative and technological ways.
Many of us tend to have missed an interesting point of fact which is that it is on account of its cattle business (dairy) being whittled down that Canada is opting out of the USA president, Donald Trump’s reformed North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.
With the new arrangement, Canada’s dairy business derived from cattle is threatened and it is therefore rejecting the deal.
So, cattle business is big business.
Conversely, in Nigeria where we are blessed with the abundance of cattle and which is supposed to be asset, it has become the source of strife and violence. That’s simply because we are yet to apply science, technology and capitalism in harnessing the huge potentials inherent in animal husbandry.
Why for instance can’t fresh milk from the ranches in the north be served every morning not only in northern cities like Abuja, kaduna etc but also in major cities in the far south like , Lagos, lbadan, Benin, Asaba, Warri, Enugu , Calabar and Port Harcourt?
Apart from the concept of fulaniCapitalism which I’m advocating, govt should collaborate with the NVRI, Vom to move the ranching initiative forward through extension services etc.
According to data from Nigerian Bureau of Statistics,NBS, Nigeria spent about N225b in the first quarter of this year alone importing agricultural products. Ironically, Nigeria’s comparative advantage in international trade is supposed to be in agriculture. Yet, our country spends nearly a quarter of a trillion naira in just one quarter(4 months) importing food from other countries. It’s such a paradox that makes our country look pathetic to close observers.
How can a country that has the potentials to be a net exporter of food be listed amongst nations shackled by food insecurity?
As the govt in power is ostensibly driven and anchored on change, this humble submissions on how to change the narrative of animal husbandry from nomadic cattle herdsman-ship, (the primary cause of the killings generating chaos in our society), to that of ranching in our community, leveraging science, technology and capitalism, should be evaluated for possible adoption.
And for the good of our country and all the numerous ethnic groups and religions, that assessment should be carried out with no sectional sentiments or bias.
Rather, pragmatism as well as national interest should be placed above all other considerations.Magnus Onyibe, a development strategist, alumnus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy , Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA and former commissioner in Delta State govt sent this piece from Abuja. Related