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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Herdsmen: Dilemma of a nomadic lot

Written by Kehinde Oyetimi 
~Nigerian Tribune. Friday, July 1, 2016.
Herdsmen, let us appreciate, are perhaps humanity’s earliest known tourists. They must be taught however that there is a culture of settlement, and learn to seek accommodation with settled hosts wherever encountered. —Wole Soyinka

There was a quiet despondency in his gaze. It was long, frail. His words were few and far-between, revealing a depressing nostalgia. Tanko Ali, 45, had a most memorable childhood. He was raised in Kwambai, Bauchi State. He knew no other life than that of a herdsman. He intoned that, as a boy, he would move the cattle to graze from a “mere shouting distance” from his village. But his narrative took an aching trajectory when he lamented that the grazing lands were no longer there, only long stretches of grassless plains, imposed by a rapidly growing desertification. With no pasture, Tanko resorts to grazing even outside the immediate boundaries of Nigeria.

“We know no other life than the life that we share with our animals; when they are fat, our joy knows no bound. Again, when they are ill, we have no reason to be happy. When I was a boy, the grass that surrounds our village used to be tall as human beings. There was enough and even surplus for our cattle. But it is no longer the same—no grass, no water. We lose our cattle to hunger and thirst,” he said, dispelling a hurting sigh.

Tanko’s dismal narrative is not a personal tragedy as it is shared by a huge chunk of cattle rearers who had plied their craft through the years in the northern part of Nigeria. This unnerving challenge is due to the growing advancement of the desert into areas and plains that had one time or the other being fertile for grazing cattle and farming.

Today, a large part of Nigeria’s North has been taken over by desertification due to the area’s Sahelian and arid topography. With the years of such painful realisation, the herdsmen, with a pressing duty to affirm the survival of their cattle, have continuously pushed their way down south in search of water and vegetation for their cattle. The fight for space and the limited arable land resources have left trails of sadness and tears in the wake of herdsmen/farmers’ conflict.

Desertification, grazing lands and El Nino

Musa Ibrahim, in his 30s, is another herdsman from Borno State, who traces the problem of search for grazing lands to an occurrence that dates back to many years.

According to him, “Unlike what we had when growing up when the grass was lush and plentiful, and water was not a problem, things are changing. I just hope people would understand. We have no choice but to find better pasture for the cows. In fact, it is not new to find herdsmen venturing far from home, as far as the South and the West because the problem with the desert dates back to over 30 years ago. We have not only lost homes, but farmlands and even means of livelihood.”

Ibrahim probably refers to the Great Drought in the Sahel region which took place between 1968 and 1973 and which had far-reaching negative effects on parts of northern Nigeria. The situation affecting Nigeria’s northern region as stated by Ibrahim above is typical of the El Nino occurrence in Southern and Eastern Africa, which is reflective of drought and rising temperature levels, with the World Food Programme warning that “More than 40 million rural and 9 million poor urban people are at risk due to the impacts of El Nino’s related drought and erratic rainfall.”

In fact, Ngozi Thelma Mohammed, in her study entitled “Desertification in Northern Nigeria: Causes and Implications for National Food Security,” published in the Peak Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities in March 2015 reveals that “Desertification is one of the most glaring of environmental hazards and the phenomenon has affected some states in the northern part of Nigeria, but the impact has been more glaring since the famine of 1971-1973 in this part of the country. By location, Northern Nigeria is situated in the semi arid areas with average annual rainfall or less than 600 mm bordering on the Sahara desert which is considered as the hottest and longest desert in the world. The soil in this area face a lot of threat ranging from deforestation for domestic fuel, overgrazing by livestock and agricultural practices that fail to conserve soils such pollution from the improper use of agricultural pesticides, herbicides and chemical spills from both liquid and solid fertilizers.

“Generally, desertification affects eleven (11) northern states of Nigeria referred to as the frontline states, these include: Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Bauchi and Gombe. These states are agricultural producing areas and are affected by desert encroachment that is fast moving southwards. Desertification is attributed to loss of the lands biological productivity in arid, semi arid and dry sub humid areas. The impact is significant in developing countries especially Africa which is the most affected because its economy is predominantly agrarian, rain fed and fundamentally dependent on the vagaries of weather.”

She further posits that “Most conflicts in Northern Nigeria are environmentally based, a large number of which is overgrazing, farmland and water. The conflicts are mainly between farmers and cattle herdsmen. The struggle for the remaining farm land has degenerated to communal clashes and also, when cattle herdsmen move downwards in search of grazing land for their cattle, they encroach on people’s farms and this usually leads to crisis. The conflict between the Agatu people and Fulani’s in Benue State, Biroms and Hausas in Plateau are good examples. A lot of these conflicts go on in Nigeria, some with large scale killing and property destruction.”

Lake Chad: Africa’s vanishing basin

Once spread across the far west of Chad and Nigeria’s northeast, the Lake Chad basin provided 90 per cent of the area’s water supply. Remarkably, it used to be Africa’s largest water reservoir. It is said to cover about 26,000 square kilometres, bigger than Israel or Kuwait, about the size of the US state of Maryland.

Painfully, things are different now. Those who live around the lake’s shoreline are strangely terrified by the speed with which the lake is vanishing. By 2001, the lake was said to cover less than one-fifth of the area. Abbas Mohammed, a climatologist at the University of Maiduguri, claims that it may even be worse now.

Vegetation and water which characterised the spread of the Lake Chad basin and provided for the needs of both farmers and herdsmen have diminished significantly. Today, the Lake Chad basin reflects despair and death. In its estimation, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) described the situation as an “ecological catastrophe.” It claimed that the lake could disappear this century.

In his remarks, the FAO Director of Land and Water, Parviz Koohafkan, stated that “the Lake Chad basin is one of the most important agricultural heritage sites in the world, providing a lifeline to nearly 30 million people in four countries – Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.”

With such uncomfortable recognition and ripple effects seen in job losses and the constant threat to human and animal existence, there is an expected migration en masse by herdsmen, thereby placing much pressure on the sparse land distribution down South of Nigeria.

Yet, it does not displace the fact that through the years, herdsmen have tended their cattle through many terrains of the southern corridor, albeit with very scanty herds.

Herdsmen and farmers don’t share same concept of space —Prof. Obono, sociologist

In his submission, Professor Oka Obono of the Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan, stated that “Conflicts occur between pastoralists and farmers because they do not share the same concept of space. The nomadic pastoralists have been using territories and spaces over long generations and have mentally appropriated them. And then suddenly one day, they may arrive in such appropriated territories and be confronted with new obstacles that prevent them from continuing their traditional modes of life.

“The southward migration of the Fulani attracts hostile reactions from host (usually farming) southern communities. The response of Nigerian pastoralists has been to maintain a sedentary base on the outskirts of communities, which can be swiftly dismantled to take advantage of grazing opportunities elsewhere or to avert attacks.

“Grazing lands are threatened by desertification and other environmental forces, intensified by climate change. The regular pastoralist response has been to migrate. Migration presents challenges that undermine the very reason for moving encounters with sedentary communities that may be hostile to cattle that destroy crops or compromise biodiversity.”

We have never had it this bad —Farmers

Since the renewed clashes between herdsmen and farmers, the devastation has been total. States like Benue, Enugu, Imo, Taraba, Adamawa, and others have been largely hit. A rather disturbing twist was witnessed when the herdsmen had bloody clashes with farmers in some parts of the South West. Quite prominent in the fight against the deadly clashes between farmers and herdsmen was the Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, after residents were killed by herdsmen. The governor placed a ban on cattle rearing in the state by herdsmen.

Speaking with Nigerian Tribune, Adeniyi Olubi, a farmer, bemoaned his lot. “We used to have just damages to our crops and farmlands in the past. What is disturbing to us is the murderous dimension that it has taken. Many of us nurse fear about visiting our farms. Nobody wants to die. Our farms are destroyed; our women are raped when they go to farm and we are targets. It is affecting us so much. The Federal Government should do something drastic about this.”

Sharing a similar temperament, John Gbemileke, another farmer, told Nigerian Tribune that providing grazing reserves was unwelcome. “We are farmers. South West is known for farming and education. Why can’t the Federal Government do something about this? It is wrong to convert our farms to grazing reserves. We have lost a lot since this madness started. Our people must be protected. We must be protected. Why can’t their governments provide grazing reserves for them in the North? We will not take this anymore. It is affecting our farm produce and means of livelihood,” he said.

We are developing appropriate husbandry, feeding methods —Agric Minister

Speaking on the challenges thrown up by these realities, the Media Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Olukayode Oyeleye, stated that “Nigeria has an estimated 15 million cattle, 34 million goats and 22 million sheep that need to be fed daily. Compare these statistics with Nigeria’s population of about 170 million and think of how many cows, sheep or goat per person. Considering the short duration of rainy season in most parts of the savannah regions of the middle belt and north of Nigeria where animal rearing is done mostly the traditional way, Nigeria has been glossing over some threats and opportunities. One of the threats to the existing system is that of climate. Uncontrolled grazing by animals is capable of exposing fragile land to erosion and land degradation. This is in addition to the well-known crisis and conflicts that have become associated with incursions of roaming animals into crop farms, leading to human fatalities. If there were enough grasses on the vast landscape, these conflicts would have been non-existent.

“The economics of nomadic animal production have been poorly documented. These are both causes and consequences of poor organisation of the sub-sector. The current status of dairy production in Nigeria shows that 85 per cent of cattle in Nigeria are managed by 12 million indigenous pastoralists who are essentially constantly on the move. The volume of milk produced by a cow in a single year averages just about 200kg in most areas. Compare this with the European cows producing an average of 6,500 kg per cow. Yet, milk production is not growing fast enough to satisfy Nigeria’s expanding milk appetite. Even the milk yield of traditional breeds of cows in Nigeria can be improved with better feeding. To meet the needs of Nigeria, with a population of over 170 million and an annual milk demand of roughly 1.5 billion litres, but less than five per cent of its milk produced locally, requires a new approach.

“Nigeria spends more than $200 million on milk imports from abroad every year. This makes no sense. Importation may bridge supply gap in the short term, but it is not sustainable in the long run. We need to develop appropriate husbandry and feeding methods that will boost our dairy production and supply chain, create business opportunities and reduce our dependence on importation.”

Many have repeatedly asked of the Northern governors’ involvement in addressing the challenge posed by this.

We have earmarked 30,000 hectares of land for grazing —Sokoto govt

Speaking on the Sokoto State’s government initiative in tackling the menace, the Media Adviser to the governor, Imam Imam, stated that “We are working with the Federal Government in addressing this challenge. As we speak, we have earmarked about 30,000 hectares of land where we expect to plant the grass that the Ministry of Agriculture is importing. We cut out the land from some local government areas in the state. We are expecting the grass from the Federal Government. It is expected to meet the nutritive demands of the herds and also their hide. We also want to improve their leather.

“As a state, we are working with some Chinese entrepreneurs and Argentine investors to see how best we can improve on the quality of the cattle in Sokoto. At the moment, we have contacts with the heads of the herdsmen. We are keying them into the wider plan to see how we can modernise the whole essence of cattle-rearing.

“As a state, we met a N2 billion agreement with some investors from Argentina on dairy farming. We met this on ground and we intend to follow through. We have expanded the negotiation with them. We want to use some Argentine technology to improve on the yield.”

Following similar lane as the Sokoto State government, Senator Abdul-aziz Nyako, representing Adamawa central senatorial district, is constructing water earth dams to address water shortage during dry season which often springs up clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

Joining in the campaign at stemming the challenge, FrieslandCampina WAMCO is partnering with the Federal Government on an ongoing multibillion naira dairy developments and expansion programme, including its work with over 2,500 local dairy farmers.

The objective is to raise raw milk quality and safety, increase farm productivity and support farmers in getting a market for their milk.

Managing Director/CEO, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Rahul Colaco said: “On our part, we are committed to raising dairy farming to a higher level in Nigeria and making small scale entrepreneurs to have pride in agriculture. Through our dairy development programme, we develop local farmers in three ways: through practical knowledge transfer by local FrieslandCampina dairy development officers; expert training on feeding, breeding, hygiene, disease control and milk payment, and financing of local infrastructure such as milk collection centres, boreholes, and milk collection trucks.”

Ranched cattle produce better milk, meat —Vet. doctor

In his submission, Tope Odunsi, a veterinary doctor, University of Ibadan stated that “the benefits of ranching are immense. There are countries in the world today like Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and the United States of America who have embraced ranching on a large scale. This has had multiplier benefits for their countries’ economies. Ranching helps to deploy the best of modern technology for animal husbandry.

“I must also say that ranching improves the milk quality gotten from the herd and even the quality of meat. Many people do not understand that cattle that are made to roam long distances do not produce the best of milk and meat. We must embrace ranching. It is inevitable.”

While the arguments go back and forth, the issues are in themselves germane. Drastic and more modern approach should be encouraged to harness the inherent benefits in animal husbandry and to quieten the tide of violence between herdsmen and farmers.

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I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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