• Sunday, April 21, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

RUGA, monkey business, diverse reactions and the ultimate solution

RUGA

There have been diverse reactions to the RUGA-business, revealing Nigeria’s lapses in fighting for the interest of the people.

Of course, this started with the farmers-herders clash. Some Nigerian saw nothing wrong with the Foreign Fulani Herdsmen (FFH) deliberately invading communities, destroying farms and houses, killing, inflicting pain, raping and occupying territories.

The less brutal ones among the FFH would convert people’s farms into grazing areas for their cattle, while the helpless and hapless owners watched. In the same manner, some of us saw nothing wrong parcelling our land and modernising these parcels for the exclusive occupation of these FFH.

Those who argue that the programme is for all farmers are too clever by half. At the core of ‘rugarisation’ was the desire to stop the FFH from invading and destroying both farmers and their farms. And we know that beyond the bandits, it is only the FFH that undertake such wicked adventures. So RUGA was meant for them, to appease them or to reward them for the effective conquest of various communities in Nigeria.

Other individuals, sub-national governments and organisations reacted differently. Bauchi state declared they had no problem with RUGA because the state was largely a fulani state (I hope these are local variants); Nasarawa government agreed to the programme, which made the indigenes wonder how the FFH could be handsomely rewarded and pacified for slaughtering and dispossessing people of the state.

The states in the South jointly stated that they had no land for RUGA while the South eastern states offered a grass-exchange contractual relationship and started the formation of forest guards.

Wike, governor of Rivers state offered to support the programme with water which his state has in abundance. Also, it would be easy for the RUGA authorities to transport, after all, they siphon fuel from Rivers to Kaduna refinery. Anambra state started the Ehi-Igbo (Igbo-cow) programme while Akwa-Ibom state government imported 2000 Brazilian cattle.

Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, governor of Kano state asked the government to stop the movement of cattle to the South while the Northern elders’ forum asked to stop the stigmatisation of Fulani.

The tone changed when the brash northern youths gave president Muhammadu Buhari 30 days to implement RUGA while Miyeti Allah threatened to establish a vigilante group in the South East. The news spread that they already had vigilante services in Ondo state. That was when Ohaneze asked Ndi-Igbo to defend themselves while Wole Soyinka and the Ooni of Ife, asked the Yorubas to defend their ancestral lands.

Meanwhile, Yusuf Ardo, a Miyeti-Allah chieftain argued that 99 percent of the fulanis’ are peaceful, “the attacks were political and the Fulani were more affected by the crises,” he claimed.

The issue is that treating the fulani (foreign or local) as special citizens is antithetical to the unity, peace and continued existence of this country. The collaborative and communal climate is fouled when people who have been allowed start seeking allowance, when those given a meter seek one kilometre and when some, like Abel, are taking blessings through the back door.

In order words, some people are brazenly taking an unfair share of communal resources. In any case, the fear of the fulani is now the cornerstone of wisdom in Nigeria and that was why Uguwanyi, governor of Enugu state hastily called a world press conference to announce that no community in Enugu state had chased the FFH away! Surely, this handshake has gone beyond the elbow.

There are two simple and practical solutions to the FFH invasion, despoliation, and intimidation of our communities and the nation as a whole. This is the RUGA monkey-business.

Firstly, people who attack, kill, rape and maim, should be treated as criminals, which is what they are. This is irrespective of whether they are foreign or local fulani, bandits, kidnappers etc.

Secondly, spending communal wealth on private business is against economic and political common-sense. Namapreneurship (cattle-based entrepreneurship) is a private business. Those who are in this business (of which herdsmen are just marginalised employees) should acquire and develop the type and quantity of land they want for their cattle. If the CBN or Ministry of Agriculture has any programme for farmers, the Fulani herdsmen should apply based on interest.

Other matters: Lagos to Ago-Iwoye:2hrs; Ago Iwoye to Ijebuode: 24 hours!!!    

On the 29th of March 2013, I travelled, from Lagos to the east but the unusual happened. While I spent seven hours from Onitsha to Asaba, (a very smooth ride, given the treacherous traffic on that route), it took me seven hours to move from Asaba to Onitsha. Indeed, the seven hours were the minute-by-minute calculation of the time I spent crossing the Niger bridge. Ceteris paribus, this would have taken 2 to 3 minutes. So fond of me, I shared my experience with the whole world (Ik Muo: Lagos to Asaba, 7 hours; Asaba to Onitsha, 7 hours! BusinessDay 2/4/13). Well, I thought I will never have such an experience again but lo and behold, an encore happened on September 12, 2019, on the Ago Iwoye- Ijebu Ode route, of all places.

Actually, I had braced myself for traffic on that day but not in this axis and in this magnitude. The day before, news and commentaries on the partial closure of Lagos-Ibadan express way were all over the place with motorists advised to stay at home, take alternative routes or wear iron-cast garments of “patience”. Very few people loath extended hold-up like I do.

On that day, expecting the worse, I left Lagos, circa 6 am. Surprisingly, it took me less than 10 minutes to move from Berger to the last bus-stop in Ibafo, which were the theaters of the anticipated traffic madness. I gave thanks, informed my beloved there was “no nothing” on the road and before 9am, I was at OOU. Unfortunately for me, I had rejoiced so soon, what we call in change-management practice, “premature celebration”.

I could not leave school at 5pm as usual because of sundry official commitments. Why do I always leave around 5pm? I have a daily 6pm engagement at Ijebu-Ode and whenever I left by 5pm, I got there early enough. You want to know what the daily engagement is all about? I won’t tell you!

Around 6pm, I was at the Oando petrol axis, about 2 minutes to Ijebu-Ode. There was what I thought was a minor traffic and being a veteran of Lagos internal traffic as well as Lagos Sagamu-Benin perpetual gridlock, I was none-pulsed. Two hours later, some people started turning back and I concluded that they were impatient.

Anyway, the alternative route I knew was bad, lonely and I was really familiar with it. Anyway, Ijebu-Ode was just 2 minutes away.

Well, to cut the long story short, at 11pm, I had not moved beyond a kilometer nearer to Ijebu-Ode! When the trailer drivers started spreading their mats on the road, preparatory to “going to bed”, I knew that the worst had come.

There was one hotel in that neigbourhood (OK Hotel and Suites, Iperin) and I had always been wondering what the hotel was doing at the middle of nowhere along the express way. Well, it became my saving grace that night because I made a u-turn and room 18 or so became my flat for the night. By the time I checked in and settled for the night, it was already 12am.

I woke up the next day with the intention of getting to my real home, and restructure myself for another day’s challenge but the traffic “witch” was still there. The road was still blocked. So, I turned against the traffic and went back to Ago-Iwoye. It was around 6:30pm the following day that I got to my abode at Ijebu-Ode. That was how it took me 24 hours to cover a distance that ordinarily took about 30minutes. What caused this 24-hour gridlock? An accident involving a Dangote truck and driver! That will be the story for another day.

 

IK MUO

Department of Business Administration, OOU, Ago-Iwoye

08033026625; [email protected], [email protected]