President Buhari, Robust Ranching is the Way to Go

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Ring true

By Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521

Knowing that President Muhammadu Buhari was actively involved in the absurd Ruga settlement programme for Fulani herders is depressing. I am still struggling to recover from the Ruga shock, days after it was eventually suspended. The programme, initiated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources is evidently inconsistent with the National Livestock Transformation Plan approved by the National Economic Council. I often wonder if Buhari is unaware that he is the President of the entire country. The clannishness of our President is legendary.

The Ruga intervention aims at improving the living conditions of the Fulani herdsmen in places they currently live across the country. There is nothing wrong with aiming to improve the living conditions of Fulani herders. However, this should be done for them in their traditional homes. They have to return home. The herders have been at war with virtually every host community across the country. Thousands of lives have been lost to these clashes in the last four years of the Buhari government. Why should the federal government now get up and move to entrench the herders in lands outside their traditional homes? This is clearly a clandestine plan to settle Fulani herders in other parts of the country. Suspending the Ruga plan is not enough. It must be jettisoned in the interest of peace and unity of Nigeria.

Fulani herders must be encouraged to return to their traditional homes and embrace ranching. Nomadic cattle rearing and open grazing is an aberration in modern societies. Nigeria cannot be an exception. This is what the sensible National Livestock Transformation Plan aims to address. Buhari and his cohorts must encourage it to work. It has always been my dream to see a quick end to the persistent clashes between nomadic herdsmen and farmers in different communities across our country. Human lives are sacred, as ordained by Allah. We all should work very hard to preserve these sacred human lives. Ranching is the way to go.

I have never come across cattle on the streets of any sound country. Even in some African countries like South Africa, nomadic cattle rearing have long become history. Kenya has also done a lot of work to limit open grazing. Nobody should be roaming with cattle in the 21st century. Ranching simply means farms for cattle and not death sentence for the cows.

For years, herdsmen in Nigeria have resisted change. They are opposed to any attempt to modernise their mode of operation and are ignorantly opposed to ranching. Things have just got to change. Herders must be compelled to return home and accept change.

Cattle-producing states and the federal government must create an enabling environment for ranching to happen. They should assist the herders to establish modern cattle ranches with artificial lakes for water supply. Industrial boreholes will pump uninterrupted water to sustain the artificial lakes all year round.

Running down to Southern Nigeria in search of pastures during the dry season is outdated and absolutely unnecessary. The late Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, turned thousands of miles of desert into arable land. Ranches also benefitted. Irrigation systems were established along the Libyan northern coastline and around various inland oases. There was also the Gaddafi “Great Man-Made River.” With this, the former Libyan leader funneled water from underground aquifers, by installing a large number of boreholes throughout the Libyan land. Through this process, big farms were created in hitherto deserts in Libya.

The point I am making with the Libyan example is that the core northern states can, through a deliberate policy, have green lands all year round, which will encourage herdsmen to stay and embrace ranching. If we replicate the Libyan wonder in the cattle-producing states for our herdsmen, there will be hays and water for their cows all year round and huge agriculture value chain businesses will develop around the ranches.

This talk about local cattle not being fit for ranching is false. It is one of the attempts by herders to frustrate the transformation of their activities. Former governor Gabriel Suswam has a ranch in Kansio area of Makurdi with predominantly local cows.

Remarks that herders across our country are mainly from other West African countries are preposterous and should not stop the match towards cattle ranching. Once we put our house in order, these West African herdsmen will be forced to abide by our laws. 

Followers of Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo Need Help

Those familiar with the story of the notorious late ‘Jesu Oyingbo’, in Maryland, Lagos, will not be surprised by the obsessive behaviour of the followers of Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly. Followers of Jesu Oyigbo were extremely fanatical about him because he forced something stronger than opium on them. These people were hypnotised and Jesu Oyingbo went about sleeping with virtually every female in the Church. He slept with women who came into the Church with their children, slept with the female children and also with the girls born by these women. His followers kept clapping for him because they had been “jazzed.” For them, he was god that could do no evil. The veil was only removed from the faces of his followers when the man died. These Jesu Oyingbo followers eventually regained consciousness and realised that they had been in bondage for years. The evil enclave has since been demolished.

A similar drama is playing out at Fatoyinbo’s Commonwealth of Zion Assembly. Most of his followers are high on something stronger than opium. That was why they have been attacking Busola Dakolo, following her allegations that Fatoyinbo raped her twice years ago. These followers see Fatoyinbo as god that can do no evil. They are incapable of seeing any negative thing in him because they have been “jazzed.” These people require help; they are unconscious and unaware of what they are doing or saying. We need to help pull the shroud off their faces.

I just laugh whenever ill-informed people punch holes in the Busola rape story. Some said because there was no iota of resistance from her during the alleged rape, so, it was with consent. Fatoyinbo allegedly simply held her hands and she gave in without resistance. This is very simple to explain. Busola was hypnotised. It was purely what we call “jazz.” At that point, she did not resist because she was unaware of what was happening to her.

Other critics wonder why Busola, after the said rape, still joined COZA in Abuja and worked as a chorister. So, they say the whole rape allegation is fake. This is because the enchantment was still working. The veil only fell off Busola’s face after so many years of spiritual warfare.

Another former COZA follower, Ese Walter, was the first to flash the public spotlight on Fatoyinbo. Many similar allegations have followed about his sexual conduct with members. Yes, Fatoyinbo has not been found guilty by a court of law. However, in the court of public opinion, he has a lot of questions to answer. He must be forcibly detached from the body of Christ. This is the truth that must be told.

Mahmoud Yakubu and Multiple Political Parties 

The Independent National Electoral Commission, as currently constituted, remains the most incompetent in the history of this country. The 2019 general election it conducted is the most dreadful ever seen in this country. One of the biggest problems INEC created for itself in the 2019 elections was the large number of political parties it registered. It was the first time in the country’s history that ballot papers had 91 political parties. It evidently created logistic glitches for the umpire itself. For the voters, it was horrendous, as they spent time sifting through the long list on the ballot papers clogged with all manner of political parties. Yes, it is part of democracy to allow as many political parties as possible, but for now, this country lacks the capacity to manage such a large number. Our election umpire does not even have the capacity to monitor the 91 political parties.

I thought INEC would move very fast to trim the number of political parties before subsequent elections. I was shocked to read that the leadership of this hopeless umpire says it lacked the powers to deregister political parties without further constitution amendments. Haba! INEC already has all the power required to deregister useless political parties.

There are laws guiding deregistration of political parties, based on performances in elections. The  amendments to Section 225 of the 1999 Constitution, empowers INEC to deregister any political party on the grounds of (a) breach of any of the requirements for registration; (b) failure to win at least 25 per cent of votes cast in: (i) One state of the federation in a presidential election; or (ii) one local government of the state in a governorship election; (c) failure to win at least – (i) one ward in the chairmanship election; (ii) one seat in the national or state House of Assembly election; or (iii) one seat in the councillorship election.

This constitution amendments carried out by the 8th National Assembly substantially addressed the problem of multiple unusable political parties in Nigeria.

Former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, was apt when he said what INEC needed to do was to look at these provisions of the 1999 Constitution (Fourth Alteration, No. 9) Act, published in Official Gazette No. 77 Vol. 105 to be well guided.

So, Mahmoud Yakubu and his men should activate the amendments to Section 225 of the 1999 Constitution. All the political parties that have failed to meet the legal prerequisites based on performance at the 2019 elections must be deregistered.

Nelson Brambaifa’s Desire at NDDC

Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), wants to be the substantive MD of the agency. He has been mounting pressure on the cabal in Aso Rock to help actualise his ambition. A number of people and organisations are also being prompted to campaign for him. The most recent is the so-called Arewa Youth Parliament (AYP), which on Monday appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm Brambaifa “following his laudable initiatives in office.” The group added that Prof. Brambaifa had ensured transparency in the management of the commission.

Well, it is good for Brambaifa to aspire, but talking about having ensured “transparency and efficiency” in the NDDC is questionable. The NDDC, under this professor, has been sleeping in the last six months. I thought those campaigning for him will mention the specific projects he has completed since he became acting MD. I was expecting to see the intervention programmes and projects delivered by Brambaifa that are touching the lives of the people in the Niger Delta.

Those campaigning for him are aware of the scholarship mess at the NDDC, but chose to look the other way. As a reminder, about 200 Nigerians who benefitted from the NDDC’s 2018 Scholarship are wallowing in pain in Europe. Aside from hunger, many of them run the risk of being deported any moment from now, due to non-payment of their academic fees and maintenance allowances. They were given scholarships to pursue postgraduate studies abroad, fully funded by NDDC, and left the country with fanfare late last year to various universities in Europe. NDDC’s promise was to remit the school fees into accounts of the universities. The sustenance component of the scholarship was to be paid into their personal accounts. All these are yet to happen several months after.

One of the traumatised scholarship recipients told an online publication: “When we were given the award letter, NDDC was supposed to give us N500,000 as take-off grant but they gave very few people the money and promised others that they will give us the take-off grant later. Till now, we are yet to receive any money from the commission.”

The acting MD of the NDDC has so far failed to end the agony of these scholars.

Talking about transparency, I am aware that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has been all over the NDDC for weeks. Brambaifa and the Executive Director of finance, Chris Amadi, were recently with EFCC’s investigators in Abuja. Well, they have not been accused or charged with anything. The point is that a lot of allegations are flying around and drawing bad press for the agency.

I strongly feel the NDDC should restart on a fresh note with a fresh substantive Managing Director and board. The agency, established to provide rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta, into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable and ecologically regenerative has so far failed to deliver on this mandate due to years of failed leadership.