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Audu Ogbeh back with cattle colony blunder

I have not forgotten or will ever forget seeing Chief Audu Ogbeh for the first time after the 2003 general elections.

That was at the Nigerian Institute for International Affairs (NIIA) in Lagos. Ogbeh was the chairman of the party in power, the PDP.

This encounter was just after the rape of the nation’s democracy by the party Ogbeh supervised as the national chairman.

It was the event of the annual lecture of the now rested Newsweek Magazine. After the lecture delivered by former second in command in the national government, Admiral Mike Akhigbe, Ogbeh spoke ostensibly to defend his party and that evil rigging, and he said: “For any election in Nigeria to be free and fair and credible, all candidates that contested must win because as long any candidate loses, such alleges irregularities.”

That was his ‘smart’ logic, a shameless illogic to defend that PDP did nothing wrong in the manner it won the elections.

After some years, Ogbeh jumped ship – from PDP to APC. Because PDP had become a party peopled by villains and APC that of angels, Ogbeh himself and all the former PDP members that left for the new party, including Chief Barnabas Gemade, became angels too.

The same man in the heated days of fuel price hike protests between Nigerians and President Olusegun Obasanjo, once cautioned Adams Oshiomhole of the NLC to be careful how he threatened Obasanjo with wars and agitation because according to him, ‘Oshiomhole should not forget that Obasanjo is a general.’

Such is Ogbeh’s reasoning drift and pattern. Last year, he gave us the controversy and infamy of exported rotten yams to the US and UK. Because he belongs to the cleanest government on earth, we overlooked the act.

Now, we are in 2018, and Ogbeh has gone back to his old art of treating Nigerians to illogic. Today, it is the theatre of CATTLE COLONY that he runs.

As agriculture minister, what he thinks would bring an end to the clashes and deaths between Fulani herdsmen all over the south/middle belt of Nigeria and farmers is that the federal government should decree and enforce cattle colonies in all states for specifically the Fulani herdsmen. Sound logic indeed.

We wait for the powers of the agriculture minister to enforce that thought gone adrift. Is it within the powers of the minister to hijack lands belonging to people of states and convert them to the use of herdsmen? Where did he keep reserve of such lands and whose land would that be. Is it land belonging to the minister in the states or that of the ministry or the herdsmen?

No need going too far on this illogic because even his Benue State has distanced him and vowed no piece of its land would be any cattle colony. So, the agric minister, we wait for you to come down to the south where you never implemented your boasted agric policies and take the land you kept in the bank for your cattle colony.

When he made this ‘wise’ suggestion, the president agreed to do everything to assist in facilitating that, according to him, to bring an end to the killings.

Meanwhile, these are the same herdsmen the presidency announced to us when they routed Nimbo in Enugu State, Agatu in Benue and Ankpa in Kogi in 2016 and early 2017 that the herders that killed farmers were foreigners and never Nigerians. Today, Ogbeh and his government want to seize lands from all over the nation and hand over to ‘FOREIGN’ Fulani herdsmen as cattle colonies.

Before that comes true, we have to remind Ogbeh that 75% of Nigeria landmass is in the north. So where would he find the space in the tiny landmass of the south for his cattle to colonize to the advantage of the Fulani herdsmen alone?

The argument readily bandied to justify the South East having five states unlike others that have six has been that they lack the landmass. But today, for the sake of cattle colonization, Ogbeh would create more land for the South East from which he would find spots for the cattlemen.

The pronouncement wasn’t a plan to carve out cattle colonies for Nigerians with interest in rearing cattle, but specifically for the Fulani herdsmen in all the states. So, I ask, is there any law in Nigeria against other citizens rearing cattle and operating a ranch in Edda or Awgu, Azumini, Ndikelionwu or Izombe, Oke Ogun, Okitipupa, Ankpa, Fugar, or Ijero Ekiti?

Even if Ogbeh gets a law to back this blunder, it would be a bad law and would certainly be obeyed in the breach. To make a law to create cattle colonies for Fulani herdsmen is discriminatory. Our constitution doesn’t permit discriminatory laws and this looks like one and will easily be defeated in judicial interpretation as unconstitutional for intentionally out to favour and benefit a particular set of Nigerians against others.

Some people are actually playing on others and that is why we must remind Ogbeh and the FG that if this move starts, then the FG must have hanged itself on a noose because it must create other colonies in all states for poultry, piggery, bee keeping, mushroom farming, paddy rice cultivation, yam and cassava fields, cocoa plantation and for every conceivable farming in Nigeria by Nigerians.

For Ogbeh’s information, only Egypt is an African country in the list of 18 top cattle inventory countries of the world, and it occupies the 14th position. India, Brazil, China, US, the EU are the top cattle inventory countries of the world in that order from the top. For Ogbeh’s information, none of them runs a cattle colony or practices nomadic herding. They all operate ranches where cattle owners as private business operators get land for themselves, pay and rear their cattle like the poultry farmer does in Nigeria or like the rice farmer also does even in the town of Ruwa located at the road intersection of the Gusau-Tsafe-Funtua-Katsina road. So, why the preference for the cattle herder in this planned blunder?

At a time the world has advanced to higher levels, why won’t Ogbeh and his ministry give the herdsmen a lift by encouraging them to invest in ranches like even President Muhammadu Buhari does with his cows?

The ministry and Ogbeh should rather make a law to introduce ranching as a rule and anybody can invest in it like every Nigerian does in car dealership, cocoa trading, palm produce buying, rubber produce retailing etc.

When these things are said, even the victims of these oppressors are deluded to think they are favoured. Until the government thinks of finding a more humane and modern means for the Fulani to rear their cattle and make a better living, they don’t wish them well.

I once travelled the Kadauri-Anka-Bukkuyum road in Zamfara State that leads down to Zuru, off the Gusau-Sokoto highway in the early morning and what I saw was an endless stretch of kids as early as 7am moving their goats and cattle to grazing lands at a time they should be in school, given their age.

Apart from the Federal Government College Anka, I can’t recall seeing any other school on that road of about 40km to Bukkuyum. Let’s be kind to ourselves

Uche Atuma :

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