By Yemi.Adebowale; firstname.lastname@example.org
For me, the most soothing piece of news so far in 2018 about our beleaguered Nigeria came from Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State. I am so happy seeing a governor from one of the cattle-producing states endorsing ranching as a solution to the unprecedented and mindless killings in our country, resulting from herdsmen and farmers’ clashes. Ganduje made my day last Sunday when he urged Fulani herdsmen to come to his state and make use of the vast gracing land set aside for them and their cattle. This governor is evidently averse to nomadic cattle rearing. He unambiguously called on Fulani herdsmen in Benue and Taraba states to relocate to Kano State immediately and enjoy some form of ranching.
Honestly, this is the first time of being aware that herdsmen of Kano State origin hardly move out of the state. I did not know that the state has ranching facilities for herdsmen and their cattle which discourage them from moving to other states in search of grazing land. I was bewildered when I saw some of the pictures of the grazing land and ranches on television. These controlled grazing lands and ranches are already home to millions of cattle. For me, this is the way to go for Nigeria. Ganduje’s predecessors deserve praises for this milestone and also a special award to this governor for sustaining the legacy.
The Kano governor elucidates: “Fulani herdsmen of Kano origin do not move out of the state to other states because we have enough grazing land, ranches and traditional stock route. They don’t have any reason to move out of the state. We take care of them and we accord them the respect and dignity they deserve.” Indeed, Kano State grazing land in Rogo, Gaya, Kura, Tudun Wada and Ungogo and the facilities provided to accommodate the herdsmen and their cattle are inspiring. The ongoing free vaccination of millions of cattle and other small animals at Kadawa Artificial Insemination Centre in the Garum Malam Local Government Area of the state should convince Fulani herdsmen across our country that Ganduje’s Kano State has the capability to keep more herders in regulated grazing lands in the state.
One other project suggested by Ganduje, which I believe would drastically reduce the awkward nomadic rearing of cattle, is the suggestion to convert the Falgore Game Reserve in the state into a modern grazing land. This reserve has the capacity to accommodate millions of cattle and the herdsmen. I learnt that his administration is already collaborating with the federal government and some foreign agencies to actualise this proposal. “The location has been designed to accommodate schools, human and animal clinics, markets, recreational centres and other social amenities that would provide the herdsmen enough comfort to take care of their animals and transact their business without any hindrance. These killings must stop. We cannot afford to continue to witness these senseless killings in the name of Fulani herdsmen and farmers clash over lack of grazing land when we have a place like the Falgore Game Reserve which is underutilised,” stated Ganduje.
This Kano State template must be replicated in other cattle-producing states. We have to encourage herdsmen to embrace ranching as the modern way of cattle rearing. Just as I pointed out last week, cattle-producing states must create an enabling environment for ranching. They should also establish artificial lakes, which will help sustain such ranches. Industrial boreholes, powered by solar energy, will pump uninterrupted water to sustain such artificial lakes all year round. It should be a carrot and stick approach. Herdsmen who refuse to embrace ranching after all these should be compelled to do so.
Cancer Treatment and the Shame of Nigeria
The University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria’s premier teaching hospital is looking for a paltry N251 million to purchase the latest cancer treatment machine called Brachytherapy, which will offer succour to people suffering from prostate cancer, breast cancer and other types of cancer without side effects. The Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Prof. Temitope Alonge, made this pathetic disclosure this week during the celebration of World Cancer Day in Ibadan. Alonge said further that all UCH needed to upgrade its equipment and complete its ultra-modern cancer centre is just about N5 billion. I am shocked that many federal tertiary health centres hardly get up to N200 million yearly as capital vote. Just like UCH, all our public health institutions lack this vital Brachytherapy machine that costs a mere N251 million. How can this be happening in a country where billions of Naira is spent yearly on a pathetic State House Clinic? How can this be happening in a country where some governors spend billions of Naira on jollifications? How can we have vital health equipment in Nigeria when our leaders, including the head of the country, rely on foreign countries for medicals?
Another thing that left me so depressed was Alonge’s disclosure that our cancer patients, who lack money for treatment abroad, are subjected to the outdated and hopeless chemotherapy treatment. The CMD explains: “When you do chemotherapy through the blood stream, it goes through the entire body before settling down at the site where it is needed. But we have gone beyond chemotherapy. We now have nanochemotherapy where the drug will go round the body at no harm and break open at the site where it is intended to work. The machine is called Brachytherapy. The Brachytherapy machine is like a radiation, which identifies the location. It will locate the exact cancer and kill the cell. This ‘brachy system’ is targeted treatment that allows for high local concentration of radiation wall which does not affect the other tissues around. A lot of big men in Nigeria with prostate cancer go abroad to receive treatment using this machine. Here, they stand the risk of not having erection after prostatectomy. But with ‘brachy’, technically, the man can still perform.”
A paltry N251 million is all that is needed to purchase a Brachytherapy machine and our public hospitals can’t afford it. What a country. In Nigeria, cancer is a death sentence for the poor and working class. This is so because of lack of access to quality care. For how long must we continue like this in a country that earns billions of USD from oil? This is food for thought for all of us this morning.
Real Patriots Must Rise and Salvage Our Drifting Country
Yes, Obasanjo and Babangida’s letters to President Buhari were factual. These men were able to hit the nail on the head. However, I am still not a fan of these characters. I don’t regard them as patriots in the real sense of it. The truth that must be told is that Obasanjo and Babangida are on the match again, scheming to impose another misfit on Nigerians. Baba Iyabo’s Coalition for Nigeria is a charade dominated by bread and butter politicians. Let’s put aside 2019 elections for now. Obasanjo and Babangida can continue their scheming. I have been terribly worried about our fragile unity, threatened by religious and ethnic bloodshed. Just on Monday, the Management of Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola had to shut the institution following two days unrest involving Muslim and Christian students which resulted in the death of a student.
Former governor Sule Lamido’s remarks about our sagging unity captures it all: “The vision of our founding fathers, like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Aminu Kano, Ahmadu Bello and Tafawa Balewa had been that there should be a Nigeria populated by human beings first, not tribes, regions or zones. We cannot forge ahead if we are governed by culture of hate. We are failing today because we have people who are alien to democracy on board. They are exploiting our differences, manipulating our emotions, dividing us and gradually turning us into a country where we hate one another.
“Fulani, Tiv and Hausa are now killing each other, blood flowing all over Nigeria. God is angry with us in Nigeria. What do we do? The party in power has no political history; it only came to divide us, impose a culture of hate while intimidation and blackmail are the order of the day.”
A worried Babangida also remarked: “The festering nature of this crisis (farmers-herders’ conflict) was an inelegant testimony to the sharp divisions and polarisation that exist across the country. For example, this is not the first time herdsmen have engaged in pastoral nomadism but the anger in the land is suggestive of the absence of mutual love and togetherness that once defined our nationality. We must collectively rise up to the occasion and do something urgently to arrest this drift. If left unchecked, it portends danger to our collective existence as one nation bound by a common destiny; and may snowball into another internecine warfare that would not be good for nation-building.
“I get worried by their colourations. I get perplexed by their gory themes. From Southern Kaduna to Taraba State, from Benue State to Rivers, from Edo State to Zamfara, it has been a theatre of blood with a cake of crimson. In Dansadau, Zamfara State recently, over 200 souls were wasted for no justifiable reason. The pogrom in Benue State has left me wondering if truly this is the same country some of us fought to keep together. Nigeria is now described as a land where blood flows like river; where tears have refused to dry up. Almost on a daily basis, we are both mourning and grieving, and often times left helpless by the sophistication of crimes.”
Indeed, we have never been this divided in our 57 years as an independent country. Things have fallen apart in the last 32 months of the Buhari administration. Hatred and bloodshed across ethnic and religious divides have assumed an unprecedented dimension, with our fault lines persistently stoked by this administration. God-fearing people must form a truthful coalition and pull Nigeria from the brinks. Genuine patriots must rise and salvage our drifting country by promoting mutual love and togetherness. The likes of retired Colonel Abubakar Umar, Father Hassan Kuka, Senator Shehu Sani and Senator Baba Kaka Garbai must link up with like minds across the nation for this task.
This country can’t afford to wait till 2019 to check this drift. This administration must be compelled to embrace nation-building immediately. One very important step that must be taken to reduce these killings is to reflect federal character in the leadership of our security agencies. Just as the Pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said, Buhari “must immediately re-organise the country security architecture to reflect the diversity of the country; the current situation where 16 out of 17 service chiefs in the country are from a section of the county is unhealthy and unacceptable.”
Obasanjo also berated the excesses of Buhari in the uneven distribution of public offices, which must be reversed. He said: “The ethos of nation building through even distribution of public offices had been abused. To start with, we seem to have taken nation building for granted. Nation building must be given continued attention to give every citizen a feeling of belonging and a stake in his or her country. For instance, the Federal Character principle, as espoused in our constitution, was to guide the leadership to search for competent holders of major offices to be distributed within the entire nation, and avoid concentration in a few ethnic hands or geographical places, as we currently have in the leadership of our security apparatus.
“To avoid such non-integrative situation, we have the National Assembly and the Federal Character Commission, both institutions which must raise the alarm or call for correction of actions by the executive that violates the spirit of our constitution.”
This is the only way we can build a country that all Nigerians will be proud of.