The attorney General did not misspeak but hit the bull’s eye

The attorney General did not misspeak but hit the bull’s eye.  His duty is to protect the constitutional right of every Nigerian. Just as it is wrong for any state in Nigeria to ban the spare parts business in their domain, it is wrong to ban cattle rearing without providing alternatives. I have been a supporter of an end to open grazing and I have written extensively on it and why open grazing is not sustainable. However, I do not envisage a ban on open grazing without alternatives to the cattle herders. Cattle rearing is a means of livelihood to some people just as trading is a means of livelihood to others. If a southerner can go to the north and do spare parts business and other trades without hindrance, a northerner has the right to do his cattle business in the south. 

The government of the northern states where spare parts dealers are operating gave them shops and markets and guarantee their business. If you want to stop open grazing, build Ruga or ranch and transition them. Cattle business is not the exclusive preserve of northerners. Southerners who have the patience to wait for their herd to multiply in years before making profit can do the business too. Nobody is stopping them. Markets are built by government. Airports, roads and parks are built by government. Industrial estates are built by government. I don't understand the madness of criminalizing cattle rearing when some of us can’t go a month without eating beef. We in the south consume beef in the form of kilishi, suya etc the most. We slaughter it during burial as a status symbol. Our shoes are made from leather derived from cattle skin so why all the stigmatization? People were not stopped from trading in pharmaceuticals because of fake drug merchants. Drug dealers were not stigmatized. Fake drugs have killed tens of thousands of people in Nigeria before NAFDAC got it under control. The government through NAFDAC went after fake drugs merchants just to help those dealing in genuine drugs and the society. So why are cattle herders being criminalized because of the activities of some criminal herdsmen? 

Why can’t we deal with issues with an open mind as Africans who common sense? Must we inject our tribe, region and imported religions into everything? The population of the country is increasing meaning that the demand for protein (beef) will keep increasing. At the same time, unemployment is on the rise. Why can’t southern governors establish Ruga and encourage southerners to also go into the business? That way, the Ruga is not only for northerners but a sort of industrial park. Must we reduce everything to politics, tribe and religion? Where will all the jobs we want the government to create come from if we don’t want to support agricultural production; crop or animal? I do not support ban on open grazing without the provision of alternatives to enable those involved in the business carry on with it. I support it to the extent that there is the provision of alternatives in the form of ranch or ruga or whatever name it is called. 

Mfon Offiong

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