SIMPLE is as easy as finding answer to two plus two. However, when the whims and caprices of man enter the equation, two plus two can become rocket science. You will think that managing a country that is as endowed with natural and human resources like Nigeria for “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress” is like taking bread with butter; not so, when a succession of anomalies have bred in our elites such negative self-absorption in governance that have now become the cross of the country.
To begin with, what does it take to acquire and grow a cow to maturity and profitable sale in an age in which men have placed their flags on the moon? How much land space and how much feeds and care would 200 million such cows need (a figure enough for Nigerians with million extra for exports)? Some impetuous fellow have said that Sambisa Forest alone is more than enough for such lucrative enterprise, a place that is instead a dreaded base for tormenting the nation.
For whatever sense or sensibility, let us dismiss the mean fellow and talk fact. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation in a recent publication “World Cattle Inventory: Ranking of 209 Countries,” the world has about 1.468b cattle with Brazil as leader (211,764,292) followed by India, China and United States of America in that order. Nigeria is in 14th position with 20,000,000 cattle, with Ethiopia, Sudan and Tanzania ahead of us in Africa (54m, 41m and 24m cattle) in 5th, 7th and 11th position respectively. In none of the leading or lesser countries, Africa and beyond, is there any issue about cattle rearing leading to social crisis, much else violent crimes and human killings, except in Nigeria!
Best-practice can be learnt just as there is what is called technology-transfer, and even technology theft! Whatever anyone does better than you in this competitive world, you smartly play catch-up. It is only Nigeria, thanks to its “one-of-a-kind” elites and political class that chooses to remain in the past of humanity in a world where innovation, even on what seems almost perfect, is still ongoing at per second rate! How did Dubai grow from a fishing village and desert trading outpost to what it is today in just about the same time that we have returned to democratic rule after Abacha? It was not the works of Angels; it was the handiwork of far-sighted elites.
Space does not permit an in-depth presentation of how cattle production, an issue that has become a potential war-trigger today in Nigeria, can indeed single-handedly not only earn us as much as crude oil but be a tool for ending unemployment, insecurity and underdevelopment in all aspects, especially when it is joined cooperatively with what is sadly and unimaginably its arch-enemy now, crop production in mechanised mode.
How then are we where we are at a dangerous and potentially explosive moment, on account of engagements that should be blessings to all Nigerian? Simple – leadership that is inept, unimaginative and selfishly uncommitted to the common good. It didn’t happen just yesterday though, which is why we all owe it a duty to gradually return leadership and followership to sanity.
Nigeria started out well enough, not perfectly but well enough. Military intervention and long years of brutal dictatorship not only changed Nigeria’s administrative and political structures negatively and adversely, but it equally negatively affected Nigerian psyche, values and political culture too. The last 20 years of unbroken democratic rule presented the opportunity to right all the wrongs, but disappointingly the ruling political class was even more unwilling than the ordinary people to change the paradigm. For 16 years we blamed the Conservative section of the ruling elite, now what do we have with the Progressive section in 6 years?
A stalemate inside underdevelopment and crises is not good enough for Nigeria and it is never too late. Restructuring is not rocket-science, just as cattle ranching and livestock production is no calculus. Everything good is possible, profitably for all – for “unity and faith, peace and progress,” all that is needed is willingness in the first place not to be arrogantly obstinate and narrow-minded in leadership, all for selfish goals. For every Nigerian, let us resolve that “come what may, whatever the challenges, we will only resolve them in a democratic way, according to the Rule of Law” – that way, solutions and better days are never far away.