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31 Jan 2018

Nigeria: Colonies Within a Nation

In response to a problem of modernization, the Buhari administration has advanced and is deploying a medieval solution. Nigeria's cattle meat industry is mired in an ancient tradition, requiring an aggressive and fierce leapfrog to a modern competitive proposition. Instead, the current federal government is intent on pushing the industry and those Nigerians who depend on it for livelihood deeper into antiquity.
The plan, which is being hurriedly implemented in some states, consists of isolating herdsmen and their flock in medieval manorial 'colonies' and reserves literally fenced off from the march of modernity. This decadent policy is being marketed to a skeptical nation as a solution to the carnage that herdsmen have recently unleashed on the nation.
For the avoidance of doubt, what we have on our hands is a looming national security nightmare occasioned by an inexplicable reluctance to modernize a sector of our agriculture. Underneath this is a lingering failure of national integration since the end of the civil war, which has now exposed the scandalous failure of our chaotic national security apparatus.
Welcome to the dark ages of cattle farming. Angry and hungry herdsmen on foot traversing hundreds of kilometers of territory in search of grazing grounds for a few emaciated and disease -ridden cows. In this process, cattle invade farmlands, school play- grounds, highways, public parks and private gardens. This practice neither aids cattle meat production nor communal harmony. It instead threatens settled peasant and big time farmers, annoys decency and takes us back to the age when humanity hunted and foraged far afield for basic livelihood. Above all, it dehumanizes the herdsmen and converts them, at their worst, into a roving killer army without command or control.
To end this affront on decency and upsetting of national security, this government, characteristically simplistic, is intent on establishing cattle 'colonies' all over the country! Under this programme, enclaves and reserves are to be demarcated in all states and protected by federal fiat as grazing and residential lands for migrant herdsmen maybe in perpetuity. While the precise status and size of these 'colonies' is still hazy or shrouded in the usual 'official secret', I fear that a sheer failure of language may have deepened the conceptual and strategic fogginess in the design of this backward policy.
To insist on creating 'colonies' for whatever purpose within a sovereign nation is perhaps one of the most curious experiments in recent political theory. Colonies by their nature would usually be established by a sovereign state in a territory external to itself with its political control and authority. They embody a measure of conferred sovereignty designed to protect the rights and privileges of the inhabitants of these enclaves.
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Item Reviewed: Nigeria: Colonies Within a Nation Rating: 5 Reviewed By: LinkNaija