By Raymond Bemseer Magen
Last Monday in Yola, Adamawa State, the President of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Bello Bodejo accused Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State of waging war and hatred against Fulani nationalities in Benue State and Nigeria, never minding that such insane opinion is without rational basis.
Among other absurd things, Alhaji Bello advised Northern Governors to not tow the path of Governor Ortom on banning open grazing and resorting to ranching. Forgive yourself if before now, you had credited the fellow with any sense of awareness. He is as ignorant of the resolution of the Northern Governors’ forum on the matter, as he is of global best practices in cattle rearing. To ensure he doesn’t miss out on any prizes for the most archaic in reasoning, he also called on the Federal Government to resort to the grazing reserves of old! He makes no effort to come across as one well researched on the subjects he proffers the most idiotic of proposals.
Let the reader be aware that, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) is very different from the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore which is a pro Fulani socio-cultural organization. Indeed, MACBAN, for speaking in support of ranching and other modern ways of rearing cattle, has consistently drawn the ire of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore. It is mind boggling that an ethnic group of so many intelligent minds, would leave any level of her leadership to such uninformed minds. Dr Nura Alkali, a Fulani man, has himself very strongly expressed same concerns in an article that was widely read and which should trigger a flurry of conscientious efforts at stepping up the credentials for leadership even amongst socio-cultural groups.
Let’s try to make meaning of the absurdity in Bello’s outing.
Governor Ortom, when he came to office as Governor, met a farmers/herders clashes of huge proportions. Being from one of the most affected Local Governments in all of the crisis, the causes, remote and immediate were not new to him. In search of a lasting solution, he chose ranching and banning of open grazing. The measure, given empirical evidence, not only reduces clashes between farmers and herders to the barest minimum but also (with easy to find examples in countries practicing it) ensures higher yield in cattle numbers, diary products, improved health of animals etc.
This means it is more profitable to cattle rearers. It also opens the agricultural value chain for investors at different levels and grows a mutually beneficial relationship between cattle rearers and farmers. No one has challenged the veracity of these claims. No one has brought forward an alternative that surpasses ranching in economic benefits, health and as a solution to the crisis. No one.
However, this measure opposes the very archaic and long over due nomadic rearing that Bello is accustomed to and for which he has nothing more than a sentimental attachment to. Therefore, the merits in the new ways of doing business and doing it more profitably with less risks to finances and life, are akin to a hatred for his ethnic group! He owes MACBAN the same accusation as the more informed body has begun cascading of the drills in modern practices to her members.
Unable to engage Governor Ortom on the subject of what’s the best way out of the crisis, Bello and his cohorts have resorted to playing the victim card. They call Ortom every name in the book. They challenge his law in court – of course without success. They threaten to kill him; they threaten to kill his people. He still won’t budge. Instead, the leaders in the so many other places confronted with the same problem are now hurriedly towing the path of ranching and banning open grazing.
Usman Ngadzarma, the National Secretary Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria MACBAN, during the inauguration of the body’s new officials in the North East, addressed the group (during the advocacy and sensitization initiative in Katsina State) on the benefits of moving from nomadic rearing of cattle to ranching.
Those who, owing to their poor exposure, resist change that is beneficial to them and country can only be an irritation for a while. More and more Nigerians will see the light and eventually the country as a whole shall embrace it.
Finally, Governor Ortom does not hate anyone on account of ethnicity or religion. His ties to very many Fulani families has continued to flourish notwithstanding the perplexing inclinations of an unsound mind.
Magen is the Principal Special Assistant (PSA) to the governor on Media.