Ruga: A Need For Commitment Towards Ending Herders-farmers Crisis
I have read with keen attention both in support and against the planned Rural Grazing Areas policy of the Federal Government and I must state in all sincerity that the anger of the people against the insincerity and ineptitude of this government is evident. Let me state categorically without the fear of being contradicted that I am not a Buhari or APC apologist, neither am I a PDP apologist and this cannot be unconnected from the failure of the government to live up to the expectations of the Nigerian people. This government has proven in all areas of governance to be a total failure as no attention is being paid to address germane issues that affects the people which is against the social contract the government willingly entered into with the Nigerian people.
It is instructive to note that marauding Fulani herdsmen in a bloodsucking manner have been killing innocent people with impunity while destroying farms all in the name of grazing without the government taking any reasonable step to address the killings which is about to shake the very foundation of the country. It cannot be gainsaid that ours is like a volcano that is ready to erupt with the government not taking any reasonable step to halt it.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo said in 1971 during the convocation ceremony of the then University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University that "except the country urgently go back to agriculture, our country may soon be importing food to feed the population." It's very unfortunate that the government and the people then decided to turn deaf ears to the political prophet of their time. Rather than consolidate on what he said and invest heavily in agriculture, the Udoji award made the few farmers to migrate in large numbers from rural to urban area. This, is not unconnected from the failure of the government to pay attention to the business of governance while providing basic social amenities for people at the rural area. It is saddening to note that today, our country now imports nearly everything ranging from toothpick to the least unimaginable thing. Successive government has been paying lips service to agriculture, and, the change government has proven to be that of a cosmetic change of name/colour characteristics.
Swaziland is a very little sovereign entity having no other resources than sugarcane, yet, it has developed to a reasonable extent. Nigeria, on the other hand, is blessed with so many human and natural resources. This is to the extent that throwing a stone in any part of the country, you are most likely to pelt a doctor, a professor, a lawyer or an engineer. Despite these, there is nothing to show for the generous endowment.
The strong grip of rapacious, thieving and vacillating class of people masquerading as leaders has turned a promising country to a poster child of corruption and underdevelopment. While it will be unfair to blame the current leadership of the country for all the woes of the country, post-independence, truth is, the present administration has proved as incompetent and visionless as its predecessors in its fickle efforts to take Nigeria out of the doldrums. No doubt, the Buhari government has shown little or no commitment in moving the country forward with ministers at every opportunity pontificate about job-creating projects without jobs and infrastructural deficit becoming the opportunity cost of corruption thereby negatively impacting on our socio-economic development.
Needless to say, the government in transcending mediocrity must spend quality time to ponder the nation's problems most especially issues of corruption which has resulted to joblessness, escalating crime with Fulani herdsmen killing at will while Boko Haram continue to strike on a daily basis with our over-stretched military men losing their lives at warfront, disheveled social services and ethnic and religious divisiveness amongst others. In ending these, successive governments in the country have fed the Nigerian people with a diet of slogans which has not in any way improve the life of an average Nigerian citizen.
The government very recently in addressing the continuous fight between Fulani herdsmen and farm owners, introduced a Rural Grazing Areas policy that is not yet understood by many including my very humble self and this is not unconnected from the failure of the government to tell us in detail what RUGA is all about and the basis on which the policy would be built on. However, as earlier stated, as commendable as the policy is, it seems there are some hidden things about this policy that is not yet known to us as citizens and which is being hidden by the Federal Government, and, in avoiding a situation whereby the very foundation of this country would be totally shattered, it is very important for the Federal Government to tell us what the policy is all about.
As said by many, our governors have refused to reflect what federalism is in their actions and they have shown over the time to be mere appendages in the hands of the Central government. It is important for regions like the South West with ranching areas that have been abandoned for years to resuscitate this in a bid to end the unnecessary killings been perpetuated by Fulani herdsmen and to also set legislations which would curtail their activities. The process of ranching should be strictly taken over by State governments and they must show total commitment towards this while private cattle owners should also set us their ranching areas. On this basis, henceforth, the governors in the South West region towards ending the killings being said to be perpetuated by Fulani herdsmen must begin the process of resuscitating ranching areas (Oodua Farms Cattle Ranch otherwise known as Western Livestock) that have been reported to be controlled by Oodua Investment Company Limited.
In doing this, total and full commitment must be shown towards this because, it cannot be gainsaid that part of the reasons for the manifest failure of government policies in this part of the world is that they are always ill-thought out and borrowed from other countries without any serious attempt to adapt them apart from the disastrous effort to carry through reformist policies on rusty, parasitic government machinery powered by 'you chop, I chop' credo.
Kazeem Olalekan Israel (GANI) is a social commentator, a fanatical nationalist and a strong advocate of self-determination and a strong believer in human freedom and liberty. He writes via [email protected]