THIS COW MADNESS-A WAY OUT                                                                    

Frank Regis I. Eke. Director of Strategy & Development, Igbolife magazine, 07030918882,

The upsurge within the last two and half years in the reckless killing of law abiding citizens cum farmers by marauding herdsmen and the bravado with which they do it is a pointer of a sinister intent with remote impetus. These herdsmen have the nerve to openly carry and display highly sophisticated weapons that ought not to have been licensed for pastoral engagements. They unreservedly use these weapons to annihilate citizens of this country-Nigeria without any restrain. The poignant fact is that these marauders have been variously referred to by high level Government officials as foreigners coming from far and near countries of sub Saharan Africa. These people who come into the country illegally (as our immigration officials cannot account for them) are now making authoritative demands for our community land and financial resources to have cattle colonies created , developed and financed for them in all the state of the federation.

This is 2018 and the whole world has gone far in all areas of human endeavors beyond ancient and obsolete way of operating business. One cannot imagine a situation where armed bandits with AK 47 rifles herding cows all the way from Honduras through Guatemala crossing from Mexico boarders into the American heartland destroying farms, killing any human being in sight. As if their actions are not bad enough they demand that the people and American Government should map out and develop land from each state for cattle colony to be financed from the treasury then in a bid to make them happy for some losses incurred in their escapade, a seating Governor draws money from the state coffer to compensate them. Just close your eyes and envision this kind of thing happening in China, Austria, Russia etc., and imagine what the people and Government of these countries will do, contrast it with the situation in Nigeria and the reactions so far. A serious cause of concern is that some folks within this geographical space experiencing these heinous acts see nothing diabolically wrong with these happening or they try to bring up infantile excuses. It is most disgusting when persons in whose hands the populace has placed their fate turn their back on them in the face of such dangers.

The absurdity of all the above is that cattle rearing is primarily a private business that should be run akin to any other business in other sectors of the economy. These people do not even operate as public quoted company as to attract such government overt interest and it is even doubtful that they operate as limited liability companies or even as enterprises. Roaming from one place to another in primitive mode, it is not even likely that they have registered or have traceable contact addresses. It is still perplexing how a private business that fattens the purse of its operators should become everybody’s headache and justify sacrificial adjustment and tolerance in the face of wanton destruction of lives and properties. Should this brand of cow madness inflict every facets of our reasoning?

Every civilized country the world over ‘Nigeria’ inclusive has modalities for setting up businesses. The onus is on the promoters to source and organize the factors required for production like land, labor, capital etc., and successfully harness them for profit. In a situation a person cannot do it alone, he/she will invite others to join him/her to form partnership in the alternative if the capital requirement is very large they can resort to the capital market to sell stocks and raise enough fund provided they can convince the public to invest in their project. Crowd funding is a growing and popular means of financing while the good old method of sourcing for bank loans is ever there. Government can only lend encouragement to strengthen the above measures, it is not the business of government in a free enterprise economy to transverse all over the country and appropriate people’s or community’s land and hand them over to some exclusive private business owners for their private use while at the same time building the facilities and financing the private project from them. This sounds like aberration of   the worst kind, it signifies veiled personal interest. Nestle Nigeria Plc., has their depots, offices and factories all over the country. MTN, with mast and offices all over the country are examples of companies doing their private businesses, one is publicly quoted, the other is private limited liability, both are providing critical services and supports the country, they are creating wealth, massive employment and they pay huge taxes, they engage in meaningful corporate social responsibilities at huge cost but the government does not chase people from their lands to create business colonies for them. When they want to expand or to build masts (as in the case on MTN) they negotiate directly with the owners of the property and pay the agreed price. When they commit infractions, they directly face the consequences/pay the fine. One wonders why the case of these marauding herdsmen is different, in the face of their nefarious activities neither their leaders nor their avowed backers/patrons are held accountable. Their unchecked countless massacres, carnages, pillaging, rape and murder that have taken a frightfully bold dimension over the last two and half years have given people reason to believe that there is more to it than just cow business. Satisfactory account of the losses incurred collectively and individually as a result of these herdsmen menace need to be taken. Meanwhile we are yet to be provided with the tremendous taxes that this glorious cattle business have generated to the country’s coffers for which everybody must hallow them.  

There have been various lame excuses by the herdsmen apologists that these herdsmen are merely tendering those cattle for people and they do not have the financial resources to acquire lands and other requirements for ranching. The other excuse dead on arrival is that drought ravage is the cause for their migration southward. With all these tails by moon lights, the question is what happened to the ‘fat cats’ that actually own these cattle? Is it that they as well do not have money to invest in ranches? We know as a fact in Nigeria that the owners of these cows are by no means poor men; they have the financial resources to buy AK 47 rifles for their herdsmen to massacre and maim human beings, destroy farmlands, livestock, and properties and stem the tide of civilization. Their cows graze on farm lands at zero cost to them, they manifestly remunerate their herders poorly and pocket the huge profits but they cannot embrace and invest in modern and more beneficial ways of running this business. They don’t want to lift a finger to improve their business and they never take responsibilities for the consequences of their business engagement. They are waiting for the government to colonize other people’s land and hand over to them on a platter of gold like is presently the case with oil blocks. These are the same untouchable ‘big men’ in high places who have unfettered access to government purse and corner the largesse. They have been benefiting for years from government incentives on agricultural developments without any meaningful outcome to the country, instead of being a net exporter of food we are a net importer of food. The same ‘fat cats’ have limitless access to bank credit facilities which they merely walk in to collect either directly or through their proxy (suitcase) companies. In most cases they never cared to repay these loans. They can collect any type of loan from the banks both serious and frivolous one , ranging from the loans to marry additional wives and loans to go for vacation or pilgrimages even for political party nomination forms but they do not care to approach the same banks for support to set up ranches. They are scared of investing in something serious and tasking that will require accountability. To be continued.

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