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Animal census, ludicrous, preposterous

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ACROSS the length and breadth of the country, there are discernible and apparently intractable monumental socio-economic challenges facing Nigerians. They are so devastating and demoralizing to the extent that there is a forlorn hope of survival for some segments of the society.

Then instead of demonstrating seriousness in frontally addressing the ever rising crippling issues, one becomes perplexed and even flabbergasted to learn about certain government policies and projects that virtually verge on frivolities, ludicrous and preposterous.

In an ideal governance setting, what the already deluded masses earnestly desire from government are pragmatic approaches to issues in the policies, programmes and projects.

At times, one begins to wonder whether those piloting the corporate affairs of the country relish in crass frivolities, paying scant attention to address the critical concerns, nagging feelings and the pulse of the masses. Realistic assessments of the propositions on some of the issues in the front burner of national discourse tend to verge on bawdy jokes and probably flying of kites, as it were. I was completely confounded when I read the propositions of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to conduct what it described as ‘animal census’ in the country.

Probably priding himself for the ‘marvelous’ research he conducted to buttress the proposal, the permanent secretary, Dr. Mohammed Bello Umar strained himself to justify the census of animals. Hear the top bureaucrat: “Given its importance to the country’s overall agricultural development… aside helping us to reduce issues of cattle rustling, it will help us to get reliable data of animals we have in this country. It will also enable Nigeria to know just how much livestock it has, what kinds there are, their location, and their actual and potential economic value.

“It would help to better track their movements [obviously referring to the foreign, murderous and lawless herdsmen, a nepotistic policy], enhance disease surveillance, facilitate the provision of extension services to pastoralists and sedentary ranchers, and make the planning of improvement schemes mush easier. The owners of domesticated animals would also be easier to identify.

“In essence, the statistical accuracy of a comprehensive animal census would eliminate much of the polarizing rumour and outright falsehoods that have made the herdsmen-settler crises even worse than it already is. If animal census is to offer a viable option in boosting livestock production in Nigeria, it must be accurate. This is not going to be easy in a nation where cattle were allegedly used to rig the first human census conducted in the country in 1962”.

Haba! What a wonderful ‘intellectual’ exposition by the ethno-religious phalanx in the federal MDAs in their accustomed nepotistic policies whch bear no relevance to overall needs of the entire society!

The ebullient permanent secretary is not done yet to justify his fashionable and much-cherished animal census even when the previous administrations, due to ethno-religious manipulations, had not gotten it right in conducting national population census which other countries take for granted as critical for national development planning, researches and sundry academic utilities.

The ‘intellectually’ suave bureaucrat was not done yet; hear his fabled ‘scientific’ postulations on the supreme importance for the country to immediately embark on animal census: “Accuracy can be achieved by deploying cutting-edge technology in assessing the nation’s livestock. Low-level aerial surveillance and ground studies must be complemented by remote sensing techniques, especially those which utilize high-resolution satellite imagery. Thermal imaging can also be used to map livestock populations, particularly those in the wild”.

I would add to his scientific postulations something like ‘moon-tech’, ‘sun-tech’, and ‘star-tech’ surveillance to ensure the realisation and accurate conduct of the fabled “animal census” in Nigeria!

I crave the indulgence of my readers to acknowledge the gross selfishness of a section of the country which one may perceive as reeling under directionless trajectory, development-wise. Why do I say so? Going by the unflattering trends in the running of the country which some Nigerians had perceived as nepotistic and sectional, it has become crystal clear that all emerging policies, programmes and projects are covertly designed to achieve ends that veer off the much cherished national unity, integration and cohesion.

In the realm of common sense or rationale thinking, how on earth could a country conceive of embarking on the supposed animal census all over the vast territory of a country like Nigeria?

Come to think of animal census, please how possible can this be? How did the permanent secretary, together with his kit and kin sit down to draw plans for such quixotic adventure to spite other ethnic groups that have sundry business enterprise in Nigeria? He was sounding altruistic but along the line betrayed his sinister motive by mentioning specifically that the phony scheme is for the marauding and murderous foreign invaders clutching AK47, from the Sahel Region of Niger, Mali, Chad, Senegal, etc. masquerading as Fulani herdsmen distinct from the aboriginal herdsmen that were reportedly driving their herds with sticks, bow and arrows.

In the shadow of the supposed animal census was the grossly self-centered calculation of the very section of Nigerians to get the federal government to undertake the funding of cattle business through the instrumentality of the annual budget. Tagged RUGA, the policy though deceptively under pigeon-hole due to ground-swell of popular discontent and disavowal, was naively designed to forcefully take over  large expanse of lands in every state of the federation to supposedly stop herdsmen-farmer clashes.

At times, one wonders how some people naively believe that other Nigerians are so simplistic that they would be cajoled into swallowing every policy of government, line, hook and sinker.

The difference between RUGA and cattle ranching is that the former is a brazen deceptive and forceful coveting of people’s ancestral land [now being done in parts of middle belt called north central geo-political zone to settle foreign herdsmen] and using funds in the federal budgets to provide infrastructural facilities and amenities germane for prospering the cattle business. Ranching on the other hand is a normal business venture where cattle owners should approach local government councils and indigenes/land owners for lands to purchase and establish ranches that cater for all animals for commercial purposes. This has been the practice the world over, even in West African countries like Ghana.

By this globalised practice sequel to civilization as a natural course in human history, the so-called cultural nomadic life-style of Fulani race driving cattle in the thick dangerous jungles and forest would be stopped. The herders would be in the position to attend schools to improve their mental outlook and fulfill their destiny as human beings created in the image of God.

But the self-centred coterie in Nigeria would not allow the stupendously rich cattle owners to scout for lands in the northern parts of the country due to the comparative advantage. Some people have suggested that the swath vast land like the Sambisa forest should be maximally used as cattle ranches; although there is nothing wrong for the state and local governments in the area assisting cattle owners in putting basic infrastructures like roads, electricity, and security like being done for other business groups all over the states in the country.             In other words, it should not be the responsibility of the federal government in a federation with different legislative lists. Agriculture ought to be within the legislative competence of the state and local governments as it was in the first republic.

If ranching greatly contributes to the Gross Domestic Product [GDP] of many countries, why can’t it be done in Nigeria? Why must a section of a country like to be leaches on the resources from other parts of the country?

Why should the country embark on a quixotic and laughable venture dubbed ‘animal census’ when the never-ending brazen manipulation of population count or census has not allowed the country to have accurate census that is critical to national development planning and sundry applications like academic programmes like researches and data for the demands of international institutions.

From whatever angle this madness about animal census had emanated, the envisaged scheme [may be that the fund has already been set aside because anything can happen in this curious country] should be stopped to save the country from international odium and ridicule. How preposterous and ludicrous would people see this ‘wonderful’ animal census when scores of cows and goats head to abattoirs on daily basis for consumption. Haba, Nigeria and its leaders!

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