The RUGA/CATTLE COLONY/RANCHES / GRAZING RESERVES debate.

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Now that the elections are over, let us reflect on some of the issues that almost tore the country apart.

Now that the elections are over, let us reflect on some of the issues that almost tore the country apart.

The RUGA/CATTLE COLONY/RANCHES / GRAZING RESERVES debate.

"To justify the hatred for Fulani cattle rearers that has enveloped and consumed their bitter souls, they say:

''Is cattle business government business? Is it not private business? Why is government interested in procuring land for the Fulani to rear their cattle?''

Let's take it from there and proceed as follows:

* Is airline business government business? Why are states and federal governments busy expending huge public funds in acquiring lands and building new airports and rehabilitating old ones for aeroplanes that are owned purely by private travel companies and rich, private individuals including pastors and bishops? Shouldn't they buy land and build airports for their aeroplanes?

* Is transport business government business? Or are all the cars, trucks, buses and vans that use Nigerian roads everyday owned by government? Why should government be busy spending hundreds of billions of naira building roads for vehicles that are mainly on private trips or for transporters that are making huge sums transporting travelers to various destinations? Shouldn't vehicle owners then raise money and build roads for their cars and travels?

* Is farming business government business? Why are both states and federal governments always busy procuring and distributing fertilizers and various other farm implements to farmers, sometimes for free and sometimes in heavily subsidized form? Shouldn't farmers who are mainly private entrepreneurs be left alone to source for everything they need for their farming business? Why should government interfere? For example, is rice farming not private business so much that the federal government gave rice farmers in Ebonyi, Kebbi and other states financial incentives to expand?

* Is commercial banking business government business? Why has the federal government been spending hundreds of billions of naira bailing out distressed banks in Nigeria since 2005 till date? Why not allow the private bank owners source for funds on their own and bailout their businesses? Why should government intervene with public funds in such a private business venture?

* Is going on religious pilgrimage both to Israel and Saudi Arabia not private business? Why are both states and federal governments often involved in the preparation and sponsorship of pilgrims to do something that is purely personal to the individuals?

* Are those private (mostly religious owned) universities not private businesses? Why have they been writing and seeking federal government financial assistance through TETFUND to enable them attain certain levels of competence? Why do they seek government subsidy on something the government had no input in its conception and development?

* Is shipping government business? Apart from owning and operating a Naval force with military style ships, all other ships are privately owned by wealthy businessmen and women, but why is government saddled with the responsibility of building dockyards or sea ports where ships and boats owned by wealthy folks berth and have their goods loaded or unloaded? Is this not an act of government subsidising the business interests of the rich?

* Is the acquisition of education not supposed to be the personal responsibility of individuals based on their personal interest and conviction, either of themselves as individuals or their families? So then, why has it always been the expectation and business of government to build and furnish schools as well as recruit and pay teachers? Is this not a heavy subsidization by government of what should have been the personal obligations of individuals or families? Is it also not subsidy of education by government when government awards and pays students and lecturers scholarships?

* Is small scale trading or even big scale trading the responsibility of government or private business? Why then should government give small scale traders little sums like 10,000 naira each to help them boost their little trades? Shouldn't the traders be allowed to source for their own funds to help them expand?

* Is buying and selling not private business interaction between a willing seller and a willing buyer? Then why is it always expected that governments at all levels should be the ones to build markets for private individuals who want to buy and sell commodities? Why should governments spend huge public funds to build and maintain markets that will be used by private individuals who are making money daily?

* Still on education, is it also not government subsidy when government spends tens of billions of naira to feed primary school kids across the country in order to boost school enrollment?

* Is film making and the entire movie industry, e.g. Nollywood, not private business? Then why did the federal government give them 3 billion naira in 2014 to boost their film making industry? Shouldn't they have been left to source for funds on their own to expand their film business?

* How about public hospitals? Why should government build hospitals for people who are sick? Isn't sickness and wellbeing a private matter, which requires the sick person or their family to seek medical treatment at their place of choice? And if government expends huge sums of public funds in servicing the health needs of sick citizens, how about citizens who hardly fall sick and have never ever visited any hospital for any personal health issue; are the rights of such citizens not infringed on, or are they not being financially marginalized? Shouldn't they then demand cash rebates from government, based on their fundamental human rights, for not using hospitals built with funds they have rights to?

* And finally, of all the things or services I have listed above, which are being financed by government, which of them are Fulani cattle rearers who roam the forests with their cows enjoying? Is it government that gives them the rains that always beat them in the jungles alongside their cattle, or is it government that feeds them with the fruits and other lean meals they largely depend on in jungles and forests? Just what exactly is the larger society giving them by way of services? Are there even hospitals in the bushes, along their grazing routes specifically dedicated to them?

Yet, some supposedly educated persons and even religious leaders are questioning and opposing the development of either cattle ranches or cattle colonies or grazing routes or even settlement camps for the Fulani cattle rearers for easy monitoring by the federal government on the ridiculously shameless grounds that it involves government funding? How long, how strong and how deep the Devil has been controlling certain persons is clearly unfolding, and it's a shame.

Fact is, anyone or any group that keeps opposing any effort to solve the so called Farmers/Herders clashes must be benefitting materially or politically from the crisis. Of course, there are those who always dupe foreign donors by lying to them that the Farmers/Herders clashes is some agenda of religious persecution by a section of the country. Such persons and groups will not want the problem solved, for solving it will deny them two things: (1.) Loss of a propaganda tool that portrays them as victims of a bloody conspiracy, and (2.) loss of opportunities to keep receiving financial grants from foreign donors who aid ''victims of religious discrimination and persecution'' worldwide.

All over the world, there are people who see crisis as business and profit opportunities. Therefore, they will either stoke it or inflame it even if it was stoked by others."

Saleh Alhassan Kubah

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