Cattle Colonies in Nigeria: The economic, cultural, religious, political and military implications
By Priye S. Torulagha
The Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, puts on a very calm face while trying to convince Nigerians about the necessity of establishing cattle colonies. He strongly believes that cattle colonies is the way to go in order to drastically reduce incessant violent confrontations between cattle herders and farmers. To further calm the nerves of Nigerians who believe that the cattle colony idea is simply a strategic tactic to Fulanize and Islamize Nigeria, the honorable minister added “Cattle colony is not using herdsmen to colonise any state. It is going to be done in partnership with state governments that will like to volunteer land for it. The federal government will fund the project and those wishing to benefit from it will pay some fees.”
He further justifies the need for the establishment of cattle colonies by implying that such exclusive settlements would result in increasing the agricultural yield of meat and milk production. Ordinarily, his reasons for justifying the nationalization of the cattle business seems harmless, however, the consequences of the proposition are far-reaching. It is argued here that “cattle colony” is a euphemism for the Islamization of Nigeria.
Thus, the purpose of this write-up is to identify the potential economic, cultural, religious, political and military implications of establishing cattle colonies in Nigeria.
First, the cattle business is a private enterprise carried out by individuals and groups of individuals to enhance their economic wherewithal. They are in the cattle business to make profit and prosper.
Second, the profit they make in selling and buying cattle is not passed unto the general public as a form of public good to enhance the general welfare of the citizens. The reason is that it is purely a private enterprise.
Third, the cattle business is primarily dominated by members of a particular ethnic group, the Fulanis. Thus, the cattle business to the Fulanis is like the retail trade business to the Igbos, Hausas, Yorubas and Urhobos, fishing business to the Ijaws, Ibibios, Itsekiris, and Ilajes, cocoa business to the Yorubas and farming business to the entire Nigerian farming population.
Fourth, the cattle are actually owned by very rich and powerful individuals in Nigerian society. They exploit the nomadic Fulanis to take care of the cows. It does not make sense for the Federal Government of Nigeria to subsidize an industry dominated by very rich and powerful individuals who have the financial wherewithal to buy or rent land to establish ranches, as in other parts of the world.
Fifth, if the Federal Government subsidizes the establishment of cattle colonies throughout the country by taking land from their rightful owners, will meat consumption be subsidized to the Nigerian public since the government will be using public funds to subsidize a particular private business that benefits one ethnic group the most?
Sixth, why is the Federal Government so interested in subsiding and promoting a business that is primarily dominated by a particular ethnic group?
Seventh, the Nigerian Constitution guarantees every Nigerian equal rights, justice and fairness. Therefore, if the Federal Government subsidizes the cattle business, will it also subsidize other businesses owned by Nigerians. In other words, if the Federal Government subsidies the establishment of cattle colonies, will it also subsidize pig colonies, chicken colonies, retail trade colonies, fishing colonies and farming colonies in order to ensure equal treatment for all Nigerian businesses?
Eight, if the federal government does not intend to establish colonies for other businesses, it might create the impression that the cattle business is being subsidized because it is operated by Fulanis and the president is a Fulani. In the event of such a perception, Nigerians are likely to imply that the Minister of Agriculture is bent on establishing cattle colonies because the president is a Fulani and the Fulanis are the power-wielders in Nigeria, hence, they can do whatever they want through the exploitation of the national government. It could also lead to the feeling that the Nigerian government is being exploited by rich and powerful individuals who actually own most of the cattle that the Fulani nomads manage daily. In this case, Nigerians could hypothesized that the president is assisting powerful cattle owners to exploit the Nigerian people.
If such a perception were to take place, hostility towards the Fulanis and rich cattle owners might increase, leading to resistance against the Federal Government.
Ninth, which group will have the right to own the lands in which the colonies would be located? Will the host communities continue to be the rightful owners of the lands or the cattle operators or the Federal Government? There is a great possibility that the settlers might argue in the future that the lands (catle colonies) were awarded to them by the Federal Government, hence, the lands are legally theirs.
Tenth, a cattle colony, as Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development envisaged, will take a lot of land because he is proposing cattle colonies that might include five to ten ranches in each colony. This means that as soon as a land has been allocated for a cattle colony, the original owners of the land might forfeit their right to use the land for farming.
First, culturally, the proposed cattle colony concept in Nigeria is un-African. Traditionally, in Sub-Saharan Africa, every piece of territorial space is associated with a particular ethnic group or tribe. This means that every ethnic group has a right to make decisions about its territory, regardless of the government in power. Thus, in Nigeria, there is a Yoruba territory, Igbo territory, Hausa territory, Tiv territory, Junkun territory, Igala territory, Ijaw territory, Ibibio territory, Itsekiri territory, Edo/Bini territory, Nupe territory, Kanuri territory, Ikwerre territory, Ogoni territory, Isoko Territory, Bachama territory, and so on and so forth. In Africa, there is a Masai territory, Akan territory, Ewe territory, Mande territory, Zulu territory, Shona territory, Somali territory, Acholi territory, Kongo territory, Tuareg territory, Berber territory, Fulani territory and so on and so forth. Here again, every group makes decisions about its territory without interference by another ethnic group.
Second, under African tradition, when an individual from a particular ethnic group visits and or lives in the territory of another ethnic group, the individual must and is expected to respect the customs and traditions of the host group. Thus, an Ijaw person cannot go to Hausaland to dictate to the Hausas what they should do and not do about their territory and vice versa. Continentally, it is considered offensive, provocative and insulting for one ethnic group to want to dominate other ethnic groups by attempting to take over land surreptitiously for its own private economic interest. Of course, it is understandable that occasionally, territorial neighbors do fight over a piece of land. However, it is entirely a different story when the national government tries to impose a particular ethnic group on other ethnic groups through land colonization.
Third, in Africa, the land is associated with the ancestors, therefore, it is treated as a sacred gift from them to the living. Governments have to be sensitive to this cultural reality. If the culture is violated, then, soon or later, governments would begin to seize or force people to give up their ancestral lands for political reasons. It is culturally unacceptable for Nigerian government to attempt to persuade Nigerian ethnic groups to give up large parcels of their lands for the private business interest of a particular ethnic group.
Fourth, even though the Land Use Decree vested the governors of the states with the authority to supervise the management of state lands, the decree is unlawful and un-African in the sense that it was passed by a dictatorial military regime. The military regime did not allow Nigerians to determine whether they want to cede the authority of their lands to the governors. The governors, whether they are military or civilian, cannot be trusted since they are political animals that could easily be forced through political circumstances to compromise against the interest of the people, as the governor of Plateau State tried to do by supporting cattle colonies in his state without consulting the people first. Again, in African culture, the land belongs to the ancestors and the living must preserve the land for future generations. It is a sacred duty for almost every ethnic in the continent to treat the land as a sacred gift.
Fifth, this being the case, the “ cattle colony” idea is a proposition by the Federal Government of Nigeria, requesting the 200 to 299 ethnic groups in the country to provide land space for members of a particular ethnic group and cattle business owners to settle and colonize. If cattle colonies are allowed, this means that out of the multitudes of ethnic groups in Nigeria, one particular ethnic group, the Fulani, will have settlements in the territories of almost every ethnic group in the country. On the other hand, the other ethnic groups would not be able to spread their business practices with support of the Federal Government to the Hausa-Fulani region of the country.
Such a development could lead to Fulani colonization of entire Nigeria. If that were to take place, it means that other ethnic groups would eventually have to forgo their own cultures, beliefs, traditions and adopt Fulani ways since the Fulanis currently are the premier power-wielding group in Nigeria. They are the only people in the country that continue to perpetuate a politico-religious state that was created through aggressive military conquest and domination of other Nigerian ethnic groups. Thus, the Hausas and the Yorubas of Kwara State are still under Fulani colonialism, even in the twenty-first century.
There Is no doubt that due to the tremendous political power that the Fulanis wield in Nigeria, especially under the present administration, they would use coercive instruments of the national government to impress upon other ethnic groups to adopt Islamic ways and forgo their traditional cultures.
Sixth, generally, it is culturally unacceptable in traditional African culture for members of one ethnic group to attack and humiliate the traditional leaders of other ethnic groups, especially when there is no war officially declared war between them. Already, some traditional rulers have paid with their lives for opposing cattle grazing in their lands in Delta, Benue, Plateau and Taraba States and possibly Southern Kaduna. Such unprovoked attacks in the past would have led to major intertribal wars. It is also a known fact that a major Yoruba leader and the former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falea, has been attacked two or three times by herdsmen. In one occasion, he was actually kidnapped by cattle herders. In the most recent attack, they burnt his farm and destroyed many crops. This means that the herders have no respect for other ethnic groups.
Despite the seriousness of the unprovoked attacks on farming communities, the Federal Government has been unwilling to take proactive measures to clamp down on the herders. Many Nigerians hypothesized that the cattle herders are able to act with impunity because their man is the leader of the country. Moreover, since almost all the security chiefs are members of their ethnic group, they are able to get away with launching violent acts against other Nigerians. In fact, the Federal Minister of Defense, Mansur Dan-Ali blames anti-open grazing laws that some states have instituted for forcing the herdsmen to launch violent attacks (Sani Tukur, Premium Times, January 25, 2018). The minister ignores the fact that herdsmen’s attacks preceded the enactment of the anti-open grazing laws. If members of other ethnic groups were openly threatening, killing and destroying members of other communities the way the herders have been doing, the Nigerian Army would have been deployed to stop them.
The religious implications of granting cattle colonies throughout Nigeria to cattle business operators is far reaching. The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, cleverly avoids discussing the potential religious conflicts that cattle colonies might generate throughout the country and focus only on the agricultural impact of managing cattle herding. The potential religious conflicts are enormous.
First, Nigeria is a multi-religious country characterized by African Ancestralism, Christianity and Islam. To ensure that Nigerians worship their chosen religions freely, the country adopts a secular-humanistic approach, so, there is no governmental imposition of religion. This means that a traditionalist is free to worship Ancestralism just as a Moslem is free to worship Islam and a Christian is free to worship Christianity. The arrangement could be jeopardized if cattle colonies are created nationally.
Second, if cattle colonies are created in the 36 states, this means that the Fulanis will have territorial space in every state of Nigeria. As their numbers in the colonies multiply, they would expand to make way for other Fulanis, particularly nomads from other parts of Africa to come in. As their population expands, they would build mosques in the cattle colonies and bring in religious priests (Imams and mullahs) to preach and mobilize them to expand even further. Thus, in the midst of Ancestral and Christian territories will be Islamic enclaves.
Third, with a sizable population in the cattle colonies, the cattle herders would insist that since they are Moslems, they are not subjected or obligated to the territorial, cultural and religious beliefs and practices of the ethnic groups which own the territories in which their cattle colonies are located. Instead, they are likely to insist that since they are predominantly Moslems, they are citizens of the Sokoto Caliphate and are obligated to it and not to the ethnic groups whose lands they occupy. This argument has already been propounded by Prof. Umar Labdo Muhammad when he said:
Benue State belongs to the Fulani by right of conquest. This isbecause half of the state is part of the Bauchi Emirate and the other half is part of the Adamawa Emirate. Benue is therefore, part and parcel of the Sokoto Caliphate.” (Daily Post, 2018, January).
Fourth, as their population increases in the cattle colonies, they are likely to turn their goal from that of cattle raising to attempt to spread and convert the indigenes to embrace their religion and forsake Ancestralism and Christianity. To facilitate the process, they are likely to seek assistance from other Moslem groups to advance their cause. This eventually will lead to very violent religious conflicts. This prediction is quite possible because the Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, had given the command to spread Islam throughout Nigeria when he said:
The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather, Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as conquered territories and never allow them to rule over us or have control over their future.” (Sir Ahmadu Bello October 12, 1960)
Moreover, President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2001, committed himself to spreading the Sharia throughout Nigeria when he said:
I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to
the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria. God willing, we
we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of Sharia in
the (Omokri, 2018, January 17).
Fifth, since the Fulanis are not shy about announcing to the world that they conquered the indigenous Nigerian ethnic groups to establish the Sokoto Caliphate, they would not hesitate to declare a jihad and force all the groups in Nigeria to embrace their religion by force. The reason is that they are not afraid of provoking other ethnic groups with their conquering mentality, as shown by the cattle herders who now roam the country to destroy farm lands and kill farmers who oppose them. Already, the herdsmen are operating like the Janjaweed of Sudan by ruthlessly attacking and killing Nigerians in their communities.
Sixth, the possibility of the above prediction taking place is not far-fetched since the Federal government appears to have been Islamized by President Buhari. It is a fact that the entire Nigerian national security system today is led by Moslems. It is also a fact that all important federal government positions are held by Moslems. This means that if the Fulanis in the cattle colonies feel threatened in any form or manner, the machinery of the national government would be utilized to protect the cattle colonies and their human inhabitants by punishing those who threaten them. This has already happened since the Nigerian Army today is no longer the Nigeria Army that Nigerians are used to. It is increasingly looking and operating like a foreign military force in the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria. The reason is that all critical positions in the armed forces are held by Moslems. Today, it is not an exaggeration to refer to the Nigerian Army as the Army of the Islamic Northern Nigeria. Its interests are increasingly pro-Islamic Northern Nigeria. Thus, Middle Belt and Southern Nigerian soldiers serve at the mercy of Islamic soldiers who make substantive policy decisions about the organization. This is why Southern and Middle Belt military officers rarely speak publicly anymore. They simply perform their assignments and remain quite.
Seventh, it is quite possible that as soon as the colonies are established, the Federal Government might create special military units to guide and protect them. With such tactical military support, the cattle herders would be emboldened to increase their population and expand their colonizing tendencies.
Eighth, it is amazing that the Federal government rarely deploys the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force to prevent herdsmen’s attacks against farming communities. The security forces are only deployed after the attacks have taken place. On the other hand, whenever cattle herders are threatened with counterattack or are attacked, the federal Government responds very quickly by sending the Nigerian Army, Airforce and the police. So, the political situation in Nigeria today is akin to the situation in “Animal Farm” where all Nigerians are equal but some Nigerians are more superior to other Nigerians. For instance, before the Agatu and Nimmo attacks, it was widely published that herdsmen were mobilizing to attack these communities, yet, the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police did not mobilize to prevent the herdsmen from mobilizing and launching their violent attacks. Even before recent attacks in Dangaji, Unguwar Gajere, Birningwari in Southern Kaduna State, Gazabu, Kungana, Tukun Ruwa, Utsua Daa and Kpenkpen villages in Taraba State and Tomatar, Uemnge, Akor village, Ayilama. Turan, Ngambe-Yiev in Benue States, it was widely known that the attackers were mobilizing to launch attacks, yet, the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force were not sent to prevent the attacks. Again, only after the attacks had taken place before the security forces were sent. It was reported in the news that even after three weeks following the massacre of 72 people in Benue State, the police units sent to the area are not sufficiently reinforced to prevent further attacks on Benue communities. Ass a result, many displaced individuals have opted not to return to their communities because it is not safe. Even the police units posted to the area are afraid of being attacked by the herdsmen.
The above characterization of Nigeria’s response to herdsmen’s attacks is further buttressed by the manner in which the Federal Government responded to the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB). The Federal Government did not hesitate to mobilize the Nigerian Army and the Police to stop IPOB demonstrations in the Southeast zone of the country. Apart from that, the Federal Government immediately proscribed the organization by calling it a terrorist organization. On the other hand, the Federal Government is not eager to proscribe the Miyetti Allah Cattle Association for provoking attacks. Similarly, the Federal Government regards the violent cattle herders as criminals and not terrorists, even though the entire world view them as terrorists, as indicated by the Global Terrorist Index in 2014 and 2015.
When the potential cultural, economic and religious implications are examined to show the potential conflicts that cattle colonies might generate in Nigeria, the political implications become very alarming.
First, the establishment of cattle colonies would enthrone the Fulanis as the supreme overlords of Nigeria. They would be the only ethnic group in a country of 180 million people that have the widest territorial presence in the country. Soon or later, using the machinery of the national government, they would begin to dominate the political leadership of every state in Nigeria, as they have done in most northern states.
Second, the cattle colonies might transform to become an extension of the Sokoto Caliphate, thereby, further expanding the authority of the Fulani ethnic group. Such a development could lead to the depowering of the Southern ethnic groups the way the indigenous northern ethnic groups have been rendered powerless and voiceless.
Third, using the national security infrastructure and the National Assembly, the Fulanis would be able to influence the passing of legislation that can turn Nigeria into a Sharia-embracing state.
Fourth, since they control the national security system, the National Assembly and the federal bureaucracy, they are likely to pass a legislation that will allow the National Grazing Reserve bill to pass with ease. The passage of such a law would provide the legal basis for the confiscation of lands owned by indigenous ethnic groups through the proposed National Grazing Reserve Commission, if the cattle colony plan does not materialize due to refusal by various ethnic groups.
Fifth, it is interesting to note that while Nigeria is supposedly operating as a democracy, President Buhari has been able to tribalize, regionalize and Islamize the governance infrastructure with ease. Increasingly, the South, the Middle Belt and Southern Kaduna State are like colonial appendages to the Islamic Republic of Northern Nigeria, hence, are powerless to stop the president from regionalizing the national government.
Sixth, the proposed cattle colonies could turn the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria into Darfur, Sudan, where the Janjaweed inflicted so much carnage in an attempt to drive away the indigenes and replace the population. Indeed, the cattle herdsmen in Nigeria operates like the Janjaweed in Sudan. Just as the Sudanese government hesitated to clamp down on the violent group, the Nigerian government too is not eager to clamp down on the herdsmen. If any Southern or Middle Belt ethnic group operates like the cattle herders, the military would have been fully deployed to stop them.
Seventh, by strategically encouraging the nationalization of the Fulani through cattle colonies, those who wield power in Nigeria seem to be creating the impression that Nigeria is an extension of the Sokoto Caliphate, hence, those who own the caliphate should have the right to own Nigeria. Otherwise, it is inconceivable why the Federal Government is trying to convince Nigerians to accept the idea that it is appropriate to allow one ethnic group to spread all over the country, at the disadvantage of other ethnic groups through active national governmental support for cattle colonies .
Eighth, by attempting to establish cattle colonies, the president and his inner circle advisers seem to create the impression that they do not believe in democracy and are only using the opportunity to spread a narrow-minded politic-religious agenda. The reason is that in Africa, every ethnic group is responsible for the management of its territorial space. Despite this cultural reality, the president and his advisers are trying to impose a particular ethnic group on other ethnic groups through the national government.
Ninth, due to regionalization and Islamization of governmental leadership, Nigeria has materialized into a political animal farm in which all citizens are equal but some citizens are superior to others. This development is accentuated by the actions of the Federal Government since the APC and President Buhari came into power. The Federal Government increasingly treats the Islamic North quite differently from the non-Islamic Middle Belt (Central) and Southern Nigeria in the following ways:
- All critical national government positions have been regionalized and
- The national security has been regionalized and Islamized. So, every decision about national policy is made by officials who come from the same region and share the same religion.
- Any action that threatens the Islamic North is squashed unhesitatingly.
- There is opposition to restructuring.
- Northern youth leaders gave an ultimatum to Igbos to evacuate the North. Yet, the Nigerian Government did not arrest them for doing so.
- Captured Boko Haram fighters are routinely released from detention to rejoin society without consequence. Many South-South and South-East youths are still in detention for various activities.
- The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB was proscribed and regarded as a terrorist organization, yet, Fulani herdsmen who repeatedly murder innocent Nigerians are viewed as criminals but not terrorists.
- The victims of herdsmen attacks are blamed for provoking the herdsmen.
- Following the clash between some Hausa and Yoruba people in Ife, the Nigerian Police Force only arrested the Yorubas and not the Hausas. The police even arrested a traditional Yoruba leader due to the altercation. Islamic leaders in the North are untouchables, regardless of what they do.
- When South-South leaders under the auspices of the Pan-Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF) wanted to hold a peaceful meeting to strategize around October 31, 2017 in Port Harcourt, the Police and the DSS stopped them.
- All proposed major railway lines are directed toward enhancing public transportation in the northern part of the country. The president even wants to build a railway line from Kano to his home town (Daura) as well as to the Niger Republic. Meanwhile, the South-South is still struggling with the Lagos-Benin Road and the East-West Road. The roads in the Southeast zone too are in a poor state..
- All of a sudden, the national discussion now is to empower the Fulani by making sure that cattle colonies are established throughout Nigeria.
Tenth, any ethnic group which accepts the cattle colonies and allow such colonies to be established in its territory would be laying the foundation for its own eventual destruction. The violence in Southern Kaduna State and the Middle Belt clearly shows what will happen if cattle colonies are allowed nationally. The settlers would end up acting as if they are the original owners of the land and threaten the indigenes in an attempt to drive them away and create more living space for their own members.
There is no concerted effort by the Federal Government to explain the potential implications of allowing one ethnic group to have settlements in every part of the country, contrary to African tradition. Similarly, the impression is created that the settlements are only for cows and their owners without mentioning the fact that each colony might attract as much as 2000 to 3000 cow hands (herders). The sum of 2000 to 3000 herders are mentioned here because the minister is proposing cattle colonies that are super ranches. This means that each colony will have up to ten ranches. Since most cattle herders are of Fulani ethnicity, it means that thousands of Fulani herders will be tactically located throughout Nigeria. This translates into military formations. Why?
First, any general who wants to fight a major war would be so happy to have his men and women strategically positioned throughout the theater of potential war. This is exactly what the Federal Government wants to do.
Second, the cattle colony idea seems to be the final battle plan for spreading Islam throughout Nigeria, as envisaged by Othman Dan Fodio and Ahmadu Bello.
Third, if the colonies are created, the cattle herders would automatically become the most strategically placed would-be-fighters in Africa. The colonies would serve as military garrisons to prepare and mobilize fighters as well as equipment for the future conquest of the non-Islamic regions of Nigeria.
Fourth, there is no doubt that the leadership of the herders would use the colonies to store arms. Already, cattle herders are allowed to carry guns. In fact, cattle herders are the only Nigerians who can openly carry guns around without being stopped or arrested by the Nigerian Police or the Army. There is no other private business in Nigeria where people are allowed to carry guns. Since, Nigeria allows Fulani cattle herders to carry guns, it would only be a matter of time before the cattle colonies begin to serve as armories for dangerous weapons. This means that the Fulanis would be able to reinforce themselves and store equipment that could easily be used to fight and intimidate host communities. Already, host communities in Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Enugu, Delta, Ondo, Ekiti, Abia, and Ogun States are regularly threatened with violence by the herders. This possibility of turning the cattle colonies into armories should not be discounted because in Delta State, it was widely reported that some indigenes reported that helicopters were landing and taking off in some of the herders camps in the state to reinforce their activities. The Vanguard on March 8, 2017, published a news story titled “Helicopter delivers supplies to herdsmen in Delta community.” Again, on March 28, 2017, Vanguard published a news report titled “Storm over alleged helicopter supplies to herdsmen in Delta.”
Fifth, as soon as the cattle colonies are established and consolidated, thousands of herders might likely pour in to settle. This would turn the colonies into military training grounds for fighters who might pretend to be cattle-herders. This possibility should not be discounted since it appears that the herders are already in possession of training grounds in some parts of Taraba, Benue and possibly Nasarawa States. Hence, their ability to mobilize to launch attacks against farming communities in those states.
Sixth, the cattle colonies would attract elements from Chad, Niger, Mali and other West African countries. It is not surprising that Nigeria is not making any serious effort to stop illegal migration of potential trouble-makers/jihadists from coming into Nigeria as cattle herders. This is attested to by the fact that the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El Rufai, had made a statement indicating that he paid some Fulani men from causing trouble in Southern Kaduna. The story was reported in Vanguard of December 3, 2016, titled “We’ve paid some Fulani to stop killings in Southern Kaduna.”.
Seventh, the “cattle colony” for all intent and purposes, seems to be a tactical way of establishing military garrisons for the final Islamization of Nigeria. This means that the colonies are simply military depots and the herders would eventually metamorphosed into warriors. As quoted above, President Buhari is a strong believer in the Sharianization of Nigeria.
It should be noted that the Roman Empire used similar tactics to conquer Europe. Sometimes, instead of launching military frontal attacks, the Romans created business centers. These centers eventually became major Roman settlements. From the settlements, the Romans expanded militarily to conquer and colonize. This accounted for why a considerable number of the major European cities, including London, Paris, Cologne, Barcelona, Florence, Cordoba, Basel, Nijmegen, Mainz, Canterbury, Worms, Zagreb, Montenegro, Zurich, Sisak, Leiden, and so on and so forth, were established by the Romans. Thus, there is a great possibility that the cattle colonies might eventually become the military bases for attacking, conquering and converting non-Moslem Nigerians by force.
Eight, cattle colonies could create sociopolitical environments that lead to perpetual warfare between the indigenous ethnic groups and the settlers like in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen due to religious extremism. The reason is that if the cattle colonies materialize, Islamic jihadists might infiltrate them and use them to stage constant attacks against host communities. The jihadists are likely to receive assistance from their ideological bedfellows in various parts of Africa and the Middle East to destabilize Southern and Central Nigeria. A major motivating factor is the need to turn the most populated country in Africa into an Islamic powerhouse for the spreading of the religion.
Ninth, the battle line was drawn long ago. It was recently reinforced when Alhaji Aliyu Gwarzo of Kano electrified the agenda for Islamization by saying:
It was either the Koran or the sword and most of them chose the Koran. In return for the good works of our forefathers, Allah, through the British, gave us Nigeria to rule and to do as we please. Since 1960 we have been doing that and we intend to continue (Pointblanknews Magazine, October 2, 2014).
He further declared:
The Christians in the north such as the Berom, the Tiv, the Kataf, the Jaba, the Zuru, the Sayyawa, the Jukun, the Idoma and all others are nothing and the Muslim minorities in the north, including the Kanuri, the Nupe, the Igbira, the Babur, the Shuwa Arabs, the Marghur and all the others know that when we are talking about leadership in the north and in Nigeria, Allah has given it to us, the Hausa-Fulani (Ibid.).
It is quite possible for some readers to easily refer to this writer as an alarmist bent on causing ethnic disunity in the country. However, the aforementioned projections are supportable by historical facts and circumstances.
First, it should be noted that Ireland was a wholly Roman Catholic country. As part of the effort to dominate the country, starting from King Henry the 2nd and following in succession with King Henry VIII, King Charles 1 and King James I of England, masterminded the gradual take-over of the country by intentionally creating polices that adversely affected the Irish Catholics. The policies led to starvation and death, thereby, forcing thousands of Irish people to flee. As the Irish Catholics flee or are impoverished, Protestants were encouraged to settle in Ireland in large numbers. When Ireland was split into the North and South with the South becoming the Republic of Ireland, the Protestants ended up becoming the majority in Northern Ireland (History of England, n.d.). So, even in the twenty-first century, the Protestants are the majority in Northern Ireland and the indigenous Irish Catholics are the minority. Apparently, the politics of Northern Ireland is dominated by the Protestants who left Scotland, England and Wales to settle in the country through the encouragement of the English Kings. The Protestant majority is not in favor of uniting Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland because such reunification might render them as a minority group. This accounted for why Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom and not part of the Republic of Ireland.
Second, in the United States, President Andrew Jackson, under the “Indian Removal Act” initiated a forceful population eviction of Native Americans who inhabited the Southeast region of the country in early part of the nineteen century. The tragic evacuation/eviction, known as the Trail of Tears, forced thousands of Native Americans from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina to trek thousands of miles from their homelands to settle in Oklahoma, which was set aside for them. Then, settlers were allowed to take over Native American ancestral lands in the Southeast region of the USA (History.com, Trail of Tears, n.d.). In the process, thousands of Native American men, women and children died as they were forced to trek in the middle of the winter months.
Third, Nigeria has a very poor record in terms of managing public lands. For instance, Nigeria is totally responsible for the exploration and management of oil and gas in Nigeria. It has a very poor record in managing the oil region. The citizens in the region are treated as third class citizens and have no voice concerning the exploitation of their territory. Sadly, Nigeria does not care about its citizens who live in the oil belt, hence, ignores the environmental degradation, economic hardship and the health issues associated with gas flaring and oil pollution. Thus, the region is one of the most polluted oil regions in the world. The country’s leaders rarely speak about the need to clean the environmental pollution necessitated by oil and gas exploration. Even the attempt to clean up Ogoniland, which was recommended by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) is not encouraging since there is no national motivation to do so. The only thing the country seems to care about is increasing the quantity of oil production to enhance its financial coffers.
Fourth, when Abuja was selected as the new capital of Nigeria, the indigenous people of Abuja sacrificed their homeland to allow Nigeria to build the new capital. After promising to pay them generously for the sacrifices made, they waited for so long to be appropriately compensated. Today, rich Nigerians have taken over the place, hence, the original owners can no longer go back to their ancestral homeland because it is very expensive.
Fifth, the people of Maroko in Lagos had gone through a similar bad experience in the 1990s when they were forced to evacuate. Before the forceful evacuation, about 300,000 people from all corners of Nigeria lived in the area. Then, during the regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Governor Raji Rasaki of Lagos State ordered the residents to leave the area within eight days. Even before the deadline, bulldozers were sent to demolish houses and force the people to leave hurriedly. All the promises made by to compensate them did not come to fruition. This is why the victims of that sad and ugly act continue to remember the day every year (Sahara Reporters). Today, Maroko is now part of Victoria Island, Oniru Royal Estate and Lekki Phase 1. Therefore, any ethnic group that surrenders its land for the establishment of a cattle colony would eventually live to regret the decision because Nigeria always fail to keep up with promises made when land is involved.
Fifth, Southern Kaduna, some parts of the Middle Belt and the non-Islamic territories of the Upper North are paying dearly for being technically colonized. If Southern Nigerians allow cattle colonies in their territories, they would begin to experience the pain that Nigerians in those places are experiencing from cattle herders who are trying to take over their farmlands for cattle grazing.
Thus, as innocent sounding as a “cattle colony” might seem, it could end up devouring the ethnic groups that make up the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria when the colonies are tactically expanded to increase the population of the settlers. Like Ireland, the colonies could end up being the sources for the final conquest of the entirety of the Nigerian land mass, as was instructed by Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello.
The cattle business in Nigeria is a private enterprise. The owners of the cattle are in it to buy, sell and make profit for themselves. Therefore, the Federal Government has no business whatsoever in wanting to subsidize the industry by establishing cattle colonies throughout the country while discriminating against other private business ventures. Instead of establishing grazing lands or cattle colonies, the Federal Government should tell the Miyetti Allah Cattle Association and other cattle owners to adopt the globalized practice of ranching, it is no longer acceptable to allow cows to roam all over the place. The owners should buy or rent land to create ranches, period.
Nigerians should ask the honorable minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to explain the cultural, economic, religious, political and military implications of enabling one ethnic group to have a foothold in all parts of Nigeria through cattle colonies. He should also be asked to answer the question of why the Federal Government is so eager to subsidize a particular private business while not making any pronouncement about creating colonies for other businesses.