On Ruga, Cattle Herders, Fulanization and Dangers Of Hysterical Reactions, By TMZ

Let me first put my biases out there for my intelligent reader. I’m an herdsmen. I own a few heads of bulls, on a beautiful ranch I built literally from the grounds up with a few believing young people: no one older than forty years of age: in the last three years. It spans almost forty hectares, our cattle is our work. They’re fat. They’re beautiful to behold. We recently fanned out from our base in the Middle Belt, and now have three smaller livestock farm lots in three Southwestern states. I’m proud of our work at Owonikoko Ranch & Farms. Follow us on Twitter @owonikoko.

I’m Fulani in my past life, I think ; but I speak no Fulfude nor Hausa, and my people are aboriginals from Ekiti state. I’m probably ethnologically not Yoruba. My existence predates the Yoruba, and that is a matter of historical fact: for those that know the pre-historic origins of the region we now call Nigeria. So pardon me, if I speak often like a disinterested party in the struggle for tribal supremacy that has characterized Nigeria’s post-colonial history since independence. I don’t see tribes, I see black people fighting over crumbs. How about we grow the pie?

Ultimately, I hope at the end of this article you will become more like me. Decipher a business opportunity instead of a challenge. See a gap, instead of a hole. Get involved, instead of lamenting. Why? Because nothing, is new on the surface of the earth. Not even the challenge that behooves on us as a country. But first me we must define the challenge.

To an untrained eye, the problem of the Cattle value chain is fundamentally the issue of uncivilized pastoralists roaming rural lands and invading farms with their animals leading to clashes. Thousands of lives has been lost to these fights and clashes for years. Between 2006 and 2014, data shows over 600 people were killed in these clashes across Nigeria. From independence, we’ve lost well over 5000 people to these clashes.

Indeed, by 2016 more people died from these clashes than in the hands of Boko Haram according to SBM Intelligence – research outfit in Nigeria. The natural narrative of emboldened Fulani Herdsmen because the new President is Fulani thus took hold, forgetting that the President’s PR may well have been taking a hit because of his own success in tackling Boko Haram that was at the doorstep of the North. Without Boko Haram to worry about, the irascible Southwest media promptly turned their attention to Fulani Herdsmen. Heck, no brown envelope. Why should they do their work of investigative journalism? Let us help them.

Further exacerbating the tension is the lack of distinction between violence caused by attacks on farmers by Herdsmen, and the attacks on Herdsmen by farmers – the later more commonly called rustling or banditry. Certainly, to many southerners – what is the difference between the Fulani Herdsmen and the Hausa farmer? Not much! They grew up on the propaganda of Hausa-Fulani as some kind of fused ethnic group when the North of Nigeria is a lot more complex than that.

Further to this, is a protein problem for Nigeria. Animals that arrive on our plates are often processed unhygienically and lack optimal nutrients and tough- having been walked long distances (some time up to 100km) before they arrive on our plate. Nigeria also pay far more per kilogram, while consuming far less per capita than she should considering her economic standing on the continent relative to others. Basically, we have a protein problem!

Interestingly, it is the food security angle with respect to nutrition, health, protein, jobs and employment that the true definition of the herdsmen challenge of Nigeria lies. Forget the narrative of some Fulani invading your land, the problem is the process of the meat arriving at your table. And to understand this process, you must understand the structure of the current livestock market. Hope you follow the next few paragraphs.

There are over 26 million heads of cattle in Nigeria today, valued at well over $16 billion USD according to FAO – a United Nations Agency. 90% of Nigeria’s cattle stock are imported – I mean literally walked into the country from neighboring nations of Chad, Cameroon and Niger. Most of the meat you eat are gotten from animals that were born in Central Africa Republic, Burkina Faso and Mali. Animals are born in Nigeria by chance. Imagine the Forex loss due to this, shouldn’t we look closely as we do rice and poultry?

On the consumption side, it is estimated that annual domestic and imported slaughtering is around 7.5 million cattle with a livestock value of $5bn. Nigeria is currently consuming 360,000 tons of beef a year, a volume that is predicted to rise to 1.3 million tons by 2050. In Lagos alone, data shows between 6,000 to 9,000 heads of cattle are slaughtered every day. Over 60% of beef consumption in Nigeria takes place in the six south-western states and Edo. Nigerians love their meat, we are carnivores!

To link consumption to production, Livestock move through various markets and incur a number of trading transactions as they move from pastoralist through to the terminal market & mostly get to market emaciated. They often walk thousands of kilometers, are lost to peril and bear in mind engage well over 15 million pastoralists who will be left with no assets and no jobs if we suddenly stop this flow of goods!

Try imagine additional 15 million more people unemployed in Nigeria, and begin to process the impact of an irrational policy in the sector!

Beyond these, the implication of the two facets of production and consumption pattern I have summarized above for you are thus:

1. Nigeria has no breeding industry. Mostly what happens in Nigeria is incidental breeding. This creates a value chain capture problem. We are losing millions of jobs in the Cattle value chain to our neighbors, who essentially depend on us for their market and most valuable exports. Nigeria is the outlet market for West Africa. We are providing immense economic aid for others without realizing or arrogating it. Hence, it is no surprise that international organizations that should point these out, generally don’t. If Nigeria stops buying, there will be more need of aid for many landlocked West African countries. Fact.

2. Flowing from the above, the lack of breeding stock ensures we import live animals from our Northern neighbors (up to 90%) while banning bovine meat offal (processed) imports – inconsistent with international standards. Remember, you can’t bring live animals or meat dripping with blood into most countries in the world to prevent disease transmission and protect local stock. Nigeria is the reverse. This has also ensured that a lot of diseases unfounded in the agricultural industry of others happen to persist in Nigeria. This has prevented Nigeria from exporting some animals and crops to premium markets like Middle East and Europe.

4. The pastoral industry that grows and transports the animal from border posts to market today employs 15 million pastoralists. Any solution as such must consider the change impact of this, which is beyond jobs but also has to do with a way of life of indigenous people which is protected by international convention.

5. The impact of climate change and rapid urbanization, including the development of a federal capital (Abuja) right on the path of the pre-colonial grazing routes (lets remember all borders of West Africa are artificial) has ensured more pastoral to farmer contact. With this contact comes conflict. The pastoralist lives for his animal as you will if you’re civilized for your pet, and has his assets tied up in it – while the farmer lives off his subsistence farming. The land his his livelihood – and cherishes his land and crops. In competition for resources, strife happen.

6. When the Pastoralists arrive in the market, it arrives relatively more expensive than other places in the world. A cattle we sell for equivalent of $1000 in Nigeria, goes for a third of that price in the United States if it sells at all! They arrive also emaciated and tough – really tough!

7. To make them into meat you can cook, eat and digest – Nigerian factor of disorganization reigns supreme. Animals are slaughtered in nasty and dirty Abattoirs across the land, and are chief transmitters of typhoid that kill thousands yearly while making millions sick.

8. Lastly, the impact of years of lack of investment in agriculture had worse impact on livestock farming than crop farmers in Nigeria. Crop farmers are easy to locate, hence even years of political intervention in agriculture no matter how half hearted always easily impacted the crop aspects of Nigeria’s agriculture. Research no matter how minimal took place and methods have improved on the crop side no matter how small. The pastoralists were harder to get to, and still do things the old fashioned way ensuring very low productivity : of meat and milk. Even as the population ballooned and demand pressure rose in our urban areas.

Nigeria’s problem in the Cattle value chain is real, and is by the way self evident but also not unexpected for our current stage of development.

As is Herdsman-Farmer clash in Nigeria in 2019, so is the western cowboy and farmer clash of 1819 United States. The problem spans West Africa too, a further proof that it is not a unique ethnological struggle but only a phase in our development as a modern country. It is this optimism we must bring to tackling the challenge.

First, what we need to solve this problem is to have cooler heads prevail, drop the demagoguery and the seemingly open season of demonization. The politicization of meat also does not help. Name calling and tagging whole ethnic groups terrorists just because you hate the President is exactly not smart if you want solutions instead of knee jerk engagement. If we won’t all turn to vegetarians, then we may as well start reasoning together. There will always be the sliver of the population spoiling for fight and edging on the rest to be relevant as interlocutors who are only relevant when things scatter: but we must not give elements any room. They abound among politicians, so called activists and ethnic liberation movement jingoists. Just remember, these elements have no solutions. They’re noisemakers!

The real solution will come from real people, reaching alignment and understanding that we need one another. We need 15 million Fulani people who are Nigerians as well as great farmers to produce grains and fodder to feed their animal. Both groups have rights to earn a living and to continue to earn a living in the context of peace and security of their neighbors. And if you believe in self determination rights of ethnic groups in the UN Charter, then you’re also bound to believe in the preservation of the lifestyle of indigenous peoples especially pastoralists like the Fulani: those rights in the same document!

To my patient reader, you will agree with me that some form of transition arrangement to convert pastoralists to the breeders we lack in Nigeria is required. The obvious hybrid approach to this is self revealing. Why not create a breeding industry with pastoralists who already do it incidentally while filling the over 512,000 tons per year gap between supply and demand for milk?

It appears to me that this is the effort that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) – whom some people always mistaken for the Miyetti Kattle Houre the militant agitation group in Benue’s Junkun region- got up its sleeves of late. Some people have claimed the effort amount to hush payment to herdsmen militants, but I enjoin MACBAN not to relent. This conversion is a necessary step if the same people that now want Buhari to ban movement of cattle or seize them, won’t later be the wailers decrying new upsurge of unemployment among ex-Fulani Herdsmen who will have to turn to crime to stay busy. You just can’t win!

Before the protest against settling Fulani Herdsmen into livestock farming communities that rent land to grow fodder and feed cows instead of grazing in pastoral manner, which to an outsider may seem logical but within the context of Nigeria’s complex tapestry of ethnic supremacists is harakiri, the idea of cattle colonies have been rejected. This is true even as the same people that rejected this idea of colonies also rejected the idea of restoring grazing routes or establishing grazing reserves. President Buhari has a tough job: in an emotional argument there is no logical solutions that makes sense.

That said, those advocating for private ranches as an alternative must understand that ranches are very expensive infrastructure and have limited outcomes short to medium term. The development of ranches is often a consequence of economic development and evolution : including of land tenure, commodity exchange, infrastructure and good tastes including appetite for inorganic farming.

To break even within a pure ranch model, the price of meat must easily double. If this is the way to go, I suggest we must be prepared to either pay more for meat or take it off our diet with dire nutritional consequences. However, there is room for private enterprise in areas such as breeding, fattening and dairy. The demand for milk in Nigeria is insatiable- an investment for milk makes sense for my readers who live North of Jos for obvious reasons!

It is highly recommended that a transition arrangement that quickly builds capacity for cattle fattening, Dairy and breeding capacity that can see Nigeria own the process in 3-5 years! During this period, pastoralist communities can gain parity to purchase land where they need to – like any other Nigerian for their business, after securing necessary government support (like crop farmers do all the time) to develop an upscale business model! I bet farming communities that become more prosperous will be welcoming to host pastoralists once the economic symbiosis in-between the two communities become self evident under a pilot. The autonomy of sensible state Governors in this regard will be very critical as much as the creative provision of grants by the federal government to do it.

Beyond the transition arrangement, we must as such look for also permanent solutions. There is an urgent need to modernize the livestock value chain. First, the prohibition of import of live animals with the transition arrangement in place will be a good step. Slaughterhouses can be placed at key border posts alongside National Livestock Markets that will be equipped with cold rooms and cold chain vehicles. Animals being brought into Nigeria will thus be mandatorily tested, slaughtered and frozen for transport to end market.

Those that want fresh day animals will have to patronize “bred-in-Nigeria” cattle and create jobs for transitioning pastoralists similar to the way chicken farmers benefitted under one Aremu who implemented similar policy after he cornered the poultry market as he always does. That story is for another day!

In the South, especially the South West (where most of the meat is consumed) our lazy thinking Governors should wake up and wake up quick. Instead of the knee jerk rejection of solutions, the modernization of the livestock value chain can employ millions of their jobless youths. The meat on your plate does not say it was groomed by a Fulani or a Yoruba man. What prevents Southwest Governors from investing and employing our roaming youths some of whom are increasingly hooked to codeine?

Indeed, when you do this you grow fodder and you employ grain and pasture farmers. The thousands of hectares of fallow lands now dominating the Southwest terrain can be converted to useful purpose instead of becoming hideouts of kidnappers. Simple as ABC. But our Governors rather use state money to charter jets, build unnecessary airports and buy ammunition for elections. Awo is rolling in his grave!

To conclude however, I reserve for our academia the worst contempt for allowing a basic issue like this become a crisis without any intervention. ASUU is quick to go to strike, where are academics on this matter, debating papers, enriching the public discourse and presenting well researched solution? I depended more on academic papers written by foreign aid organizations, who have no interest in cutting Nigeria off from providing markets to their West African aid baby countries, while writing this than on local research. It is a shame. Our professors should be ashamed!

God Bless Nigeria.

TMZ also known as Busanga, is a public commentator since 1999 online and offline. He writes from Abuja.

The Plateau We Want, By Leji Dagus

Plateau! Plateau!! Oh Plateau!!!

The Pride of the middle belt. Plateau the mother of great vegetation. Plateau the home of peace and tourism, her natural formation of rocks, hills and waterfalls the wonder of nature. The land of great people what beauty lays in plateau….

But like a dream “Anfara! Anfara! Anfara!” the screams of women and children echoes fill the air again. It echoes all over our communities. Death is near. We taste fear on our tongue. Everyone is running. I run too.

“Anfara!” it means ‘they have started’ and it also means ‘get up and run for your life.’ When people hear it, they run. Later they bury does who were not able to find safety. This is gradually becoming our way of life on the plateau.

Yesterday’s newspapers carried the familiar headline ‘FRESH ATTACK IN JOS. ’ haven’t you noticed? No one comes to visit anymore. We are chasing the world away from us. Do our children not deserve their childhoods? Have our old not earned peaceful rest?

Our enemies are laughing at us. They used to envy us. Now they expect to see us crumble to the dust and we are happily granting their prayers. What is this problem that defies resolution? Can we not give peace a chance? Can we not hear each other and come to an understanding?

The home of peace and tourism that is what we are called. Let us show the world that we are a family. Let us turn the pages of times beyond painful history and pick up the building blocks of a peaceful and prosperous future.

You and I, let us be an example.

Let Musa embrace Mathew let Mary embrace Amina in love. Let our kids go to school. Let our teachers teach our children the essence of hard work, our streets are blessed with talents it’s time to use it and be diligent at whatever we are talented at. We will prosper.

Yes! We have everything it takes to contribute to our nation’s economy. Let our farmers do their work freely and let us see if our rich soil will not answer for itself with bumper harvests. Let us rebuild our markets. Let us host trade fairs and sell to the world. Let us open the eyes of our neighbours to intercontinental ingredients. Let our wildlife and undulating scenery attract visitors again.

Our preachers should preach the truth. There is a seed of goodness in every one of us: let us allow it germinates!

We the people of plateau state, let us set the agenda for the media with positivity. If we do the media will carry fresh headlines with captivating keywords – reconciliation, progress, unity collaboration, peace, tourism agriculture, new industries.

Let us give peace a chance and we will have the plateau we want. If we do, one day we will hear ‘Anfara!’ and gather to feast instead of running for our lives.

God bless plateau state.

Leji Dagus is a journalist and blogger.

PMB’s Second Term: Ain’t No Stopping us Now, We’re On The Move, By Femi Adesina

Those who were young (men-about-town) in the 80s will remember the 1979 hit track by McFadden & Whitehead, titled Ain’t no stopping us now. The lyrics goes thus:

Ain’t no stopping us now!

We’re on the move!

Ain’t no stopping us now!

We’ve got the groove!

And if you ponder and reflect on the political journey of President Muhammadu Buhari, right from 2003, when he threw his hat into the ring, till now, there have been spirited attempts to stop him. It got to a head in the build up to the 2019 elections, when a pernicious confederacy was put together, all to stop Nigeria’s inexorable march to greatness. It failed, resoundingly.

On Wednesday, May 29, 2019, President Buhari will take oath for second term in office. Millions of good Nigerians will be delirious with joy, but some other significant minority would be in ‘sifia’ (severe) pains. Why? Ain’t no stopping Muhammadu Buhari, he’s on the move! The man will get his groove, and evildoers will be in trouble.

The combat between light and darkness, evil and good, has been an eternal one. Some people love darkness more than light, because it is under the cover of darkness that they thrive, luxuriating in their evil acts: grand larceny, plunder, killings, and others. So, they will never love the Mai Gaskiya (the honest man), and would do everything to stop him, or pull him down.

The efforts to stop Buhari have been robust, pulsating. After a reputation of honesty and probity as military governor, petroleum minister, member of the Supreme Military Council, his colleagues found no one better to wear the diadem as military head of state than the ramrod straight man from Daura. And he began to reset the foundations of Nigeria, knocking sense into the heads of the corrupt and those prone to indiscipline. It was no longer business as usual.

But the dream run lasted only 20 months, before they truncated it. The landlords of Nigeria struck, and stopped Buhari. Up in smoke went probity and accountability. Discipline flew out through the window. And we went back to a place worse than square one.

The man came back as a reformed democrat. He sought to be president in 2003, 2007, and 2011. But those in mortal fear of righteousness in high places banded together, and stopped him. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had perfected the art of elections manipulation, and they used it to the hilt.

However, in 2015, there ain’t no more stopping Buhari. A massive coalition for change was built around him, and good Nigerians stood up for the champion. Did he live happily ever after? Not on your lives! The adversaries went after him. Ran, pursued, and attempted to overtake. All sorts of things, physical and spiritual, were thrown at him, just to get rid of the man who would not steal, and not allow people to steal.

A debilitating illness came. And for most of 2017, the President was receiving medical attention, both at home and abroad. Instead of goodwill and prayers, they were rejoicing. We’ve finally stopped him, they gloated. But did they? Could they? Not if God was still alive.

Ain’t no stopping Buhari, as in August 2017, he got back his groove. His health rebounded, and he resumed work fully.

But would Pharaoh desist from pursuing Israel? No. He was destined to perish in a watery grave, so he pursued Israel into the sea. They formed what they called a coalition, vowing that they would stop Buhari from winning the 2019 elections. This was after letters had flown around from the master letter writer, virtually commanding the President to dismount from the horse.

That letter writer thinks he’s the landlord of Nigeria, as anybody he moved against never survived. He felt he could enthrone and dethrone leaders at will. But the Yoruba people say it’s the day that the witch kills twins that she stops eating meat. The letter writer bit more than he could chew, and it stuck in his throat. He formed a political coalition, it collapsed right in his face. He first adopted a political party to use in his bid to unseat the incumbent, then in act of utter confusion, he abandoned that new party, and went for candidate of the PDP.

The same man he had spent the past 10 years destroying, writing volumes and volumes of verbiage against, he now attempted to sell to Nigerians. Were we fools?

See the grand conspiracy by those who called themselves ‘Atikulators.’ They included former presidents, some retired military top brass, disgruntled senior civil servants, business people, preachers, and the elite, generally. The sluice gates of free funds had been slammed shut, and they were unhappy. As dolorous as King Lear at his worst.

The letter writer mobilized the international community, feeding them with misinformation and disinformation. Fulanization. Islamization, and other creepy concoctions. He was already addressing the PDP candidate as “my incoming President.” Oh, how so very easy to build castles in the air!

Marabouts, witches, wizards, and false prophets masquerading as pastors, bishops, and archbishops also joined the fray. They began to spew falsehood, which they attributed to God. He that sits in Heaven just laughed at them, and held them in utter derision.

All those who were on the wrong side of the law joined the conspiracy. Ex-this, ex-that, who had abused their offices, and were being made to answer questions, crept under the umbrella. They knew if their man won, their cases would die natural deaths. So, for them, it was a matter of life and death.

They came with spurious political permutations and calculations. Votes in North-west and North-east would be shared. They would sweep North-central, where they had spent the last two years trying to demonize and de-market Buhari and his political party. South-west would also be shared, and then, they would win South-east and South-south wholesale. It seemed foolproof on paper, particularly when you also throw in massive vote buying, hacking of all the hackables, and a complicit judiciary as Plan B. They were already planning how to sell Nigeria, and tell the poor to go to hell.

But they didn’t reckon with the staying power of the poor and the downtrodden. They are people who know where their bread would be buttered, and where their future happiness lay. In their millions, they trooped out to vote for the honest man. They chose light, instead of darkness. At the end of it all, about four million votes separated the men from the boys.

The man left holding the short end of the stick went to court, claiming some servers from George Orwell’s sugar candy mountain, gave him victory. It’s within his democratic rights. Ain’t no stopping Buhari now, he’s on the move!

In recent weeks, banditry, killings, murder and mayhem have suffused the length and breadth of the country. Everything appears orchestrated, choreographed, to achieve certain ends. The law enforcement agencies are pointing fingers in certain directions. But Nigerians want them to do more. Pull in the evildoers, and let them face the law.

That is what President Buhari tells them at each security council meeting, too. And we will get there. Soon and very soon, because we’ve got the groove. When the ram runs, its testicles dangle furiously from side to side. But no matter what, the testicles can never fall off. Nigeria will remain united, despite all machinations of the evil ones.

In that song by McFadden & Whitehead, you have these lines:

There’s been so many things that’s held us down, But now it looks like things are finally comin’ round.

Yes. Things are coming round for Nigeria. We will get to where we are headed. Our fair havens, land flowing with milk and honey. The crooked and corrupt won’t ever stop us, nor would they rule us again, and the wealth of Nigeria will be used for the good of Nigerians. Ain’t no stopping us now, we’re on the move!

Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity.

A Manifesto For The Future

Image by Tari Tekenah

Let us move away from the routine that has left the youth, the ordinary man and woman of our state on the outside amidst overflowing abundance both in resources and human capital.

The standard of living is going down. Unemployment, poverty and illiteracy is rising like they are competing for something monumental. There is a gap in the relationship between the state’s economy and youth engagement in productive activities.

A great percentage of our people live in the rural areas with serious ecological problems, low educational opportunities and little or no access to the internet. With the massive transformation the internet has on the global economy, we risk leaving a huge portion of our population at a disadvantaged position from which they might never recover in time to compete in a world that is becoming more global in every aspect. This should be an issue for us all.

This election is about giving you and our community the strongest possible voice in the decisions that will be taken in Bayelsa. Let’s help ourselves. With your support, I offer you a strong voice. I am passionate about community service. I will look to improving and making the most of the many opportunities that exist in our state. I will work hard for economic development, education, and employment opportunities for the youths in our communities.

I will make sure our community is not only heard, but becomes a compelling voice. Having people engaged, sharing ideas, networking for the overall development of our state.

The future we hope for is within our sights. I am asking for your vote. A vote for Theresa Tekenah is an investment for an assured future.

How APC Can Win Bayelsa 2019 Governorship Election, By Kesiye Newman

The performance of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Bayelsa State, at the recently concluded Presidential, National and State House of Assembly elections can be said to be phenomenal, considering that the state has been under the rule of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP since 1999. 

In the last National Assembly election, the APC successfully wrestled two Federal House of Representatives seats out of five from the PDP, with one Senatorial seat out of three, in its kitty, whereas it had none in 2015.

The party also made a remarkable improvement in the state house of assembly election, where it clinched four seats out of the twenty three seats declared, as opposed to one out of 24 in the 2015 election, and there’s a likelihood of one or more seats coming its way subsequently.

In the presidential election, the APC garnered an impressive 118,821 votes as against it’s 2015 performance which recorded a paltry 5,194 votes. 

To build upon this success, the party must as a matter urgency present a united front, with a laser-etched focus, completely devoid of any acrimony as it gears up to confront the ruling party in the state come November 2, 2019, which the governorship election has been slated for. 

Though it is not time for the party primaries yet, but the feelers within the party, suggest some storm may arise in the party in the days ahead as the party prepares to pick its candidate come August 2019 that the parties primary election has been slated for. 

Political watchers are not anticipating the storm from the enfant terrible of the party, Eng. Preye Aganaba, known to be working in cahoots with external forces to cause disaffection in the party. Rather, the storm may likely come from the Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural development, Rt. Hon. Heineken Lokpobiri, who is said to have an eye on the party’s ticket. 

Some political pundits are of the opinion that this could be a smart political strategy from the Honourable Minister, whose interest is seen as a bargaining chip to cut a deal with the leader of the party in the state, Chief Timipre Sylva, for another ministerial appointment in the new cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari. 

While it is within his fundamental human right to aspire for the ticket of his party, it is my humble opinion that Heineken Lokpobiri should be gracious enough to reciprocate the magnanimity of Chief Timipre Sylva, who threw a ministerial position at him on a platter of gold. He should consider the overall interest of the party, and support Timipre Sylva’s bid to clinch the coveted seat of power in the state.

Lokpobiri, has in all honesty, enjoyed an unmerited goodwill from Sylva, who handed him a ministerial position shortly after dumping the PDP for the APC, after he failed to secure his former party, PDP’s senatorial ticket that he lost to Foster Ogola in 2015. 

As it stands, the odds are not in favour of Lokpobiri, who even as a serving minister failed to deliver President Muhammadu Buhari, in both his polling unit, ward, local government and senatorial district. His performance even during the 2015 governorship election was unimpressive, and these are facts.

Lokpobiri isn’t known to command any tangible followership within his party that could be leveraged on, if he throws his hat into the ring for the governorship ticket. The same can be said about him even at the state level. It would therefore be quite an onerous task to get his party’s adherents behind him, if he wants to push through with his aspiration.

Another odd against Lokpobiri is the fact that he comes from the same senatorial district with the outgoing governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, who has ruled the state for about eight years. This factor would certainly work against his aspiration, as other senatorial districts would sure frown at Bayelsa West retaining the governorship seat of the state after its eight years spell. 

The PDP in the state is badly wounded at the moment, as it was shocked beyond words at the performance of the APC in the recently concluded elections, it would therefore go into the governorship election like a wounded lion, throwing all its arsenals into the battle for the soul of the state.

Though Dickson is not contesting again, but he would sure be at the forefront when his party, PDP, files out against the APC in the governorship contest. It is common knowledge to all, that for Dickson; all is fair in love and war, as such the APC cannot afford to go into the governorship contest with a candidate who does not possess the desired clout to match the PDP strength for strength. 

At the moment, only one person in the APC has what it takes to lead the charge against the PDP, and emerge successful, and the man is Timipre Sylva. Sylva still commands an impressive followership in the party and in the state, and should therefore be encouraged and supported by all party adherents, as the party seeks to take over government in the state.

The APC must ensure it capitalizes on the poor performance of the PDP in the state under the Dickson led administration, by projecting a common front, so it could defeat the PDP come November 2. 

Even the PDP knows that at the moment, Sylva remains its worst nightmare. Therefore, if the APC is desirous of victory at the polls come November sentiments must be put aside, as Sylva remains the best option the party has. Any other alternative would spell doom for the party.

With profound respect to the Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Rt. Hon. Heineken Lokpobiri, and other chieftains of the party who may have an eye on the party’s ticket, I humbly submit that they consider the interest of the party over and above their individual interest, and support the man that has shown capacity to get the party into Creek Haven, Government House, Bayelsa State.

 

 

Kesiye Newman is a Public Affairs Analyst based in Yenagoa.

The Rise of a Political Mogul

Blueprint: “I sit and ponder at my country, Nigeria. I muse and turn over in my mind how a series of the game plan by citizens, policy and decision makers have brought us to an administration which deserves a standing ovation. 

“On the far side of this layout are the APC chieftains, the likes of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Arc. Bulama Waziri and Bola Tinubu, among many. Now in a colony of political intellects,  with APC at the climax of mending loose ends within the party, I am coerced into anticipating greatness for Nigeria. Amongst this cluster however is a munificent man worthy of recall.

“A man who has perused time and strenght into this province, Arc. Waziri Bulama.

“Having served the party for over a decennium, he has made manifest of his interest for the APC national secretary.

“Bulama, who is very calm, and articulate will certainly complement the chairman’s personality, which heavily weighs towards innovation and reliability. If the decision makers make the right decision by shortlisting Bulama,  the two will unequivocally make APC a Brobdingnagian establishment.   

“As a stakeholder of the party, a woman, a youth and a member of Bulama Support Group, i am optimistic that this will happen. When i joined this noble cause it had just few members, within a span of one week i witnessed volunteers from all corners of the six geopolitical zones troop in thousands. 

“I have seen immense hope in their eyes; they yearn and thirst for Arc. Waziri to become the APC National Secretary. What took me aback is the secretary of BSG Comrade Paul Oyiborolume, and members of the group who have invested their time, resources and energy into the campaign for Waziri. The Founder of BSG Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri and head of strategy and planning along with members of the committee are at the apex of the whole lot, mobilising volunteers and paying homage to all corners of the country.

“This gesture is one that deserves an acknowledgement of merit. As an observer and partner i am obliged to give an enthusiastic recognition to the group. Thus, Bulama is a man we are proud of.

“It is to no surprise that Comrade Adams along with stakeholders of the party made a redoubtable and distinguished resolute in the campaign by selecting Bulama at the Zenith of the presidential campaign. 

“However, the APC which has whirled around President Muhammadu Buhari since inception will need to make tough, quick yet strategic conclusions as to who they hand pick for National Secretarial role. 

“With the exit of Baba Buhari in 2023 the party will have to construct robust leadership structures that will give it a unifying footing before this time. As a Nigerian and member of BSG, i anticipate that APC will put to use Arc. Waziri Bulama to serve as the National Secretary for the party.

“My reasons span from the fact that he is cerebral, modern, calm and has wisdom the party will definitely make good use. He has moved solidly from the grassroots to the steep incline of Nigerian politics. He gives us hope as a young people in Nigeria.”

Farida Ali Adamu, is the Co-chairperson, Media and Publicity Committee, Bulama Support Group.

Waziri Bulama For APC National Secretary

Following the victory of the National Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon Mai Mala Buni, who was recently elected as the Governor-Elect of Yobe State, North East, Nigeria, the APC is in the process of replacing its National Secretary.

Architect Waziri Bulama, had previously contested for the position of National Secretary during the 2018 National Convention of the party but being a peaceful man full of love for his statesmen and the APC at large, stepped down for Mr Buni to emerge unopposed after an agreement by leaders of the party from the North East geo-political zone where the position was zoned to.

Arch Bulama Waziri served as the Deputy Director-General (Coordination) of the APC Presidential Campaign Council in 2019. He also served as a member, Security subcommittee of the Ahmed Joda Transition committee, 2015. He was a member of Policy support Group of the APC Presidential campaign council, 2015.

He played a pivotal role during the merger and formation stage of the party when he headed the strategy and planning committee which gave the APC firm footing and ensured victory for the party in the 2015 general election.

Arch Waziri Bulama has the experience, skills, leadership qualities, administrative skills, political knowledge, to manage the affairs of the APC as National Secretary.

Arch Waziri is passionate about positively impacting the people and society at large through building a sustainable platform for future socio economic development. He has always demonstrated deep loyalty and sincere commitment to the ideals of the APC.

He is youth, gender friendly, and a strong supporter of women. I urge the leadership of the party to appoint Arch Waziri as National Secretary of our great party.

APC!

Next Level!

Save our Forests, Conserve Wildlife

The fact that government rarely cares for human beings in this country has diminished any thought of it caring for wildlife that has no value attached to it. 

If anything, wildlife conservation is a stuff that is forgotten and rarely mentioned whenever the authorities discuss priorities in policy thrust. This is very sad. The future is in jeopardy likewise the human populations except there is a change in mindset.

There is a symbiotic relationship between man and nature. Man needs nature to survive and not the other way round. No doubt, there are forestry and wildlife conservation laws in the country that are not enforced. This gives unbridled freedom to poachers and forest destroyers and no one seems to care. It is a tragedy.

Thus, the recent call by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) for stiffer penalties on deforestation and illegal trade in wildlife may be a lone but significant voice. The call is not new. There is no known policy initiative by any tier of government in the country to protect wildlife. The last thing on the agenda of authorities in the country is wildlife conservation.

The NCF had on the occasion of this year’s World Wildlife Day held the other day ahead of the International Day of Forest, called for stiffer punishment for forest and wildlife destruction.

The Head, Environmental Education Unit of the NCF, Mrs. Abidemi Balogun, said a lot more could still be done in the fight against illegal wildlife trade as well as forest preservations.

A recent report by experts said over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s forest cover had been destroyed by human activities while illegal wildlife trade is on the increase. The depletion is ongoing daily.

According to Balogun, many people are not aware that some of these animals are either threatened or endangered, noting that there is need for more awareness and proper sensitisation of the public as well as enforcement agencies.

No doubt, some of the major issues affecting wildlife and forest in the country include poaching, over exploitation, bush burning, weak forest policy, implementation, and illegal cutting down of trees.

Species of wildlife that are endangered include the Cross-River gorilla, West African lion, forest and savannah elephant and the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee.

This newspaper supports a suggestion that there should be stringent rules and punishment for anyone caught in the illegal acts, in this regard. Once there is proper awareness and sensitisation, individually and collectively, we will embrace the act of conservation and see it as our responsibility to mother earth.

It is a known fact that forests play a significant role in livelihood and ecosystem stability. But given the rate of forest destruction, Nigeria’s forestland may be reduced to grassland by 2050. This would, no doubt, have far-reaching implications, as forest dependent populations will be stripped of their means of livelihood.

Forests provide employment to over two million people through supply of fuel wood and poles and more than 80, 000 people also work in the timber processing industries, especially, in the forest zone of South-West Nigeria, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

To ensure that a significant proportion of Nigeria’s forest cover is retained, Balogun disclosed that the NCF conceived the Green Recovery Nigeria (GRN) initiative to address the problem.

The NCF sees the initiative as a grand project to remedy the situation, with the overall goal to firmly establish a forest rehabilitation scheme in 25 per cent or about 230, 942 square kilometers of Nigeria’s total landmass of 923, 768 km sq. from 2017 to 2047.

Furthermore, the support of government, private sector and individuals are key to achieving success in a large-scale forest rehabilitation project as the (GRN) in Nigeria.

While we appreciate and support the NCF’s GRN initiative and any other that may come up, it is important to note that forest conservation and wildlife protection ought to be a state and local government affair.

In terms of enforcement of the extant laws, the local authorities are better placed to do that. The Federal Government is far removed from the grassroots where the destruction and poaching are taking place.

The local people need enlightenment and sensitisation to appreciate the fact that destroying the forests adversely impacts their lives and future. 

It is needless to sacrifice the future just to meet immediate personal needs. The forests are our common heritage. There would have been no forests to destroy today if the past generations had not spared them. 

Yet, our forebearers who left the forests intact were not in any way richer. The knowledge base of today was not available to our ancient people who preserved the ecosystem.

The time has come for Nigeria to follow countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa regions where conservation is a national goal. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have enviable conservation policies that have global acclaim. 

In those countries, tree planting is part of every day life. Governments, organisations and individuals promote it. Of note was Professor Wangari Mathai of Kenya, founder of the Greenbelt Movement that revolutionised tree planting in Kenya with the planting of over a million trees.

Nigeria should review her forest and wildlife laws to suite emerging global trends. The issue of climate change, of which forests constitute a major factor, should spur the authorities to be proactive to save the country from possible environmental catastrophe.

The Guardian Editorial Board.

Kusa, Ndigbo in Lagos and Politics of Ethnicity, By Pat Utomi

I know Femi Kusa. He is a friend and a classmate. I knew of him from his Daily Times days. Then we met at the University of Nigeria shortly after the end of Nigerian Civil war. I have read his reflections on Ndigbo and the politics of Lagos. And have followed with considerable curiosity the Gale storm his article set off and some of the responses to his rebuke of Ndigbo.

My reaction has been influenced by a number of experiences from my own life’s journey. Two related to the times I shared with Femi at Nsukka, the other came from a few years later in Graduate School, in the United States. I shall start from the latter.

When I was at Indiana University, a certain professor of comparative politics and former Vice President of the University J Gus Liebenow remarked that it was a shame that some very bright African students were completing Ph.ds in economics, education and even political science and other disciplines with little understanding of the American system of government. He thought this particularly unfortunate because such people ought to be the kinds to turn to for light on how the American system worked, on return to their home countries. Who better to elucidate on the American way, in his home country than a US education Ph.d.

Liebenow, a Liberia expert, pushed for fellowship that could take some of the top Phd prospects from Africa, as interns, to the corridors of American government. He got his way. I turned out to be the first to be selected for this programme and went off to the US Capital, Washington DC as an intern in the Indiana Washington Office for rotation through the offices of members of the Indiana Delegation to the US Congress.

While the opportunity allowed me the bragging rights of engaging the American way in observing and asking questions directly of a Senator who would later become Vice President of the United States (Dan Quayle) and a

Congressman who would dominate foreign policy oversight from the House of Representative for many years, (Lee Hamilton), I suspect the opportunity advanced Liebenow’s goal because I have done many hours of talking, in the 38 years since that exposure, on how the American system works.

Some people at UNN were apparently not as smart as J Gus Liebenow. If they were, one of the Yorubas that ventured to Nsukka just after the Civil War, should probably not be one to raise issues of questionable charity towards a people he had ample opportunity to better understand.

In those days at UNN some of my closest friends were Yorubas: My classmate from Loyola College Ibadan, Gbenga Sadipe, Folu Ayeni, first class graduate and clas valedictorian in 1974, who would, with his wife Bose, found Tantalizers, years later; Ade Ogidan who would work at The Guardian for many years with Femi Kusa, and Ademola Ayegoro, among others. Most times we gathered in Baba’s room, a room next door to that of Clement Ebri, later Governor of Cross River State. It was part of a season in which things ethnic seemed peculiar to me. I was sometimes “one of those Yoruba boys”, other times a Midwest boy and at others an identity-challenged rascal. But I had fun, happy with myself and with everyone around.

My Yoruba tribe at UNN did not get in the way of association with my old school mates from Christ the Kings College Onitsha, so I had another cluster. What’s in the language you claim as mother tongue? Well, Femi Kusa and I, got a chance to leave UNN reflecting on this because at our farewell party Prof. Donatus Nwoga, the Dean of Faculty, gave a speech I still lift from till this day; and we got gifts of books. I am not sure if Femi got the same book I got but mine was a novel by the Kenyan writer Mugo Gatheru; A Child of Two Worlds.

When I read Femi’s piece, which has been called Xenophobic, and compared to the kind of remarks that set off genocide in Rwanda, what I saw was a spirit trapped in the desire to be modern but struggled with capture of the medieval. Femi is a smart and capable person and quite deliberate in what he does but we all can be trapped by things within and just outside of us. Human emotion is a subject that fascinates me.

This is why the work of people like Joshua Greene at Harvard, who draws from neuroscience and psychology to explain emotions and how people respond to the need for both cooperation and competition in the advance of human endeavor, intrigues me.

I was quickly inclined to send my friend Femi Kusa, Greene’s book Moral Tribes. Responding to Femi with fury will do little to change how he thinks of a people just as the passionate response in abuse tends to turn off. The vitriol in response, therefore seemed quite unhelpful from my point of view.

Adducing rational measurable benefits of cooperation and identifying faults in reasoning may better help a person struggling as we all tend to be, to locate themselves in the modernity/medieval mindset continuum, may help a little more.

The bigger problem for me is that many who vilify Femi actually live the shortcomings they point out on Femi. They are pockets of what they accuse him of but they do not publicly declare such. But if they show that Ondo State and Oyo States, with few Igbos, seemed to have voted like Okota, in Lagos, they may make Femi think. Did Femi think about that in coming to onclusions so divisive and threatening of cooperation? Why did such a
people who take over the territory of others vote a Northerner the Mayor of Enugu in the 1950s? There are many examples that could point a different way. But stereotypes reduced the pressure to think. They make life easy but potentially dangerous because they can perpetuate unreason.

In our earlier years in the department, at UNN, the Head of Department Ezenta Eze, taught a class on gestalt. The idiosyncratic furging of the shape of reality should not be dismissed. Some personal experience can shape a view others can consider jaundiced or biased. Condemning such outright may therefore be unfair. Maturity demands continuing sensitivity to the fact that people see reality differently, which neither makes them good, or bad people.

Identify politics is a significant point today in Nigeria. K. K. Komolafe of Thisday, in writing about my politics, thought, I should have run for office from Lagos rather than Delta. I know Lagos and are better known here, he submitted.

Femi Falana and a few others have suggested the same. Nothing wrong in principle, but maturity suggests to me that it is the early days yet for such.

My response to such prodding is a nice smile. Surely if we want to build a nation, then the nationality question has to be addressed. We can choose not to build a nation and federate or separate but we need to pace and try things before we decide.

Still, it does not mean anybody has the entitlement to denying me a right that is fundamental. Maturity must come from all sides. But what makes a difference is the conduct of leaders. As we saw with Yugoslavia, well captured by Robert Kaplan in Balkan Ghosts, once Josef Tito died the story was different.

The Filipino Professor, of Chinese ethnic stock, at Yale University, Amy Chua, years ago, wrote the book World on Fire, about ho globalization was stoking ethnic hatred against market-dominant minorities. In her list of such groups were Jews, Chinese minorities in places like the Philippines (her own ethnic stock) and Igbos of Nigeria. It is easy and cheap to attack such groups.

To be continued tomorrow

Utomi, Political economist and professor of entrepreneurship, founder, Centre for values in leadership

The Rise and Fall of Saraki Dynasty

The leader of Kwara’s crumbling dynasty has reportedly conceded defeat even as he urged his party to fight to the finish, apparently hoping for a political miracle in the gubernatorial and state assembly elections this Saturday.

The margins of defeat from the February 23 elections are indisputable just like the resolve of the electorate to break away from the past; a past characterized by cronyism, ineptitude, deceit and profligacy.

For over four decades, the Saraki political dynasty has held sway dictating who gets what in Kwara State. The patriarch of the dynasty, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, was very popular among his people due to his politics of inclusiveness. He consistently shared in their pains and joy.

This perhaps led to his election into the upper chamber of the Nigerian National Assembly and his emergence as the leader of the Senate in 1979. Saraki from 1979, installed civilian governors of Kwara State namely, Adamu Attah, Cornelius Adebayo, Sha’aba Lafiaji and Mohammed Lawal who ruled from 1999-2003. In May 2003, he fielded his son Dr Bukola Saraki who won two terms as governor.

Bukola led the affairs of the state from 2003-2011 before installing his crony, Abdulfatah Ahmed, as his successor. The younger Saraki, prior to the demise of his father about a year later, had taken over the leadership of the dynasty and was already dictating affairs of the state from his bedroom. Henceforth, he consistently deployed huge resources to win all elections in the state for his party and candidates. The last of such polls is the 2017 local government election which appeared largely manipulated in his favour. Less than two years later, Saraki and his candidates surprisingly tasted defeat for the first time in the February 23, Presidential and National Assembly elections.

The defeat of Saraki in his bid to return to the Senate as the sitting Senate President was excruciating, signaling the end of the dynasty. He lost the election with an unimaginable margin. Flying the PDP flag, the seemingly invincible Saraki lost in all four local governments (Asa, Ilorin West, Ilorin South and Ilorin East) that make up Kwara Central, his senatorial district, scoring 68, 994 votes as against 123, 808 votes garnered by his main challenger, Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe.

The Senate President not winning his own seat is a big deal, he was simply run out of town. Though the election may have been won and lost, the questions political pundits have been asking is how did Saraki lose this election to the APC candidate he defeated in the same contest in 2011?

The answers are not far-fetched. They are located in a dismal record of performance; Saraki acting as a thin god; re-cycling discredited politicians and the frustrations of an enlightened electorate encapsulated in the phenomenal slogan: O to ge.

The out-going administration under the leadership of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed has been eight wasted years of misrule characterized by infrastructure deficit, disregard for welfare of workers and several unfulfilled promises. Like his immediate predecessor, Ahmed’s government has succeeded in impoverishing the people of Kwara further. Local Government Council and State Universal Basic Education Board workers are owed salaries while pensioners are also owed their gratuities. Many Kwarans are wont to rue the slow pace of infrastructural development, particularly in the last eight years.

Prior to his defeat, the Senate President believed he had Kwara in his grip and that the state is impregnable for any challenger on the politics turf. Saraki preferred to dominate the scene, deliberately avoided picking smart and popular candidates for elections. He held the fortunes of the state hostage for the last 16 years but Kwarans have had it all; the elastic limit of patience and suffering was overstretched here.

Another undoing of Saraki was his preference for consistently appointing same set of self-centred individuals into government positions. Some of them have been in government even before Saraki became the governor with no traceable impact in government and their community. For Saraki, he mostly preferred these set of people based on their loyalty to the dynasty and not for their competence or performance. It was therefore not a surprise that virtually all Saraki’s foot soldiers were defeated at their polling units.

For several years, many Kwarans especially the aged and unemployed youths were satisfied with receiving handouts from the dynasty in the name of empowerment. Not anymore as people of the state have now realized that for every plate of food or N1,000 worth Ankara they received from Saraki, he earns N100,000 from the state treasury.

The O to ge slogan, translated to mean ‘enough is enough’, was a masterstroke that resonated among the electorate and it became very popular through various radio programmes. It was a ‘quit notice’ to the Saraki dynasty that has brought untold hardship on the people of the state.

For all those who have been following events in the state, the Saraki dynasty has won elections when it enjoyed the ‘protection’ from the government at the centre. That was not so in 2015, but it rode on the popularity and wide acceptance of Muhammadu Buhari to triumph over the opposition. In 2019, alas Saraki had no federal might. The heavy security presence and clampdown on political thugs including the re-deployment of INEC officials and security agents he consistently bought over with his deep pocket, meant Saraki had no machinery in place to manipulate the outcome of the election.

The April 5, 2018, Offa bank robbery incident is one sin many Kwarans will for many years hold against the present administration and Saraki. Not that anyone is accusing Governor Ahmed and Saraki as the perpetrators, they created the environment for such dastardly act. Ahmed, as the chief security officer of the state, paid kid gloves to the issue of security, especially outside Ilorin, until the bloodletting incident that claimed about 33 lives, among them nine policemen. He also failed to create employment opportunities for the youths in the state. They became easy recruits for cultism and robbery.

Saraki appeared to have incurred the wrath of the people of Offa when he boasted on radio last December that he donated N10million to the families of the victims without minding the unquantifiable value of the 33 lives lost to the unfortunate incident.

Going to the polls this Saturday, Kwarans are determined to nail the coffin of a parasitic political dynasty for good. The indices are constant; it’s a resolve for total liberation.

– Bayonle Abdulkadir wrote from Alore Quarters in Ilorin.