A case for grazing reserves

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Sir: For the Audit Year 1999, I was posted to the North Eastern states to audit the branches of the first generation bank I was working for at that time. My personal secondary assignment was to find out all I could about the cattle trade and how cows get down south.

While auditing our Maiduguri Main Branch I noticed a huge number of Drafts (Bills Payable) with very heavy amounts being sent for Clearing from our Branch in Gamboru Ngala to Maiduguri which is where the Central Bank was located. Shortly before the close of audit, I was instructed to audit Gamboru Ngala next. The road to that town was full of herdsmen following their cows on foot en route to Maiduguri. The town shares a common border with Cameroun.

It was while in that town that I learnt that ever since the Veterinary Organisation of Nigeria(VON) had ceased functioning,  cattle merchants have been going to other African countries especially Niger Republic, and Central African Republic to purchase cows for sale in Nigeria. Since Gamboru Ngala is a border town it was safer for them to draw their drafts on the only branch of a bank in town where they could simply cash it and cross over to Cameroun to start their journey. Once they had purchased their herd they would transport to the Camerounian border and from there to Gamboru Ngala from where herdsmen would shepherd them to Maiduguri.  From Maiduguri they would be transported by road to two destinations in the South- Agege and Awka for the West, and the East.

The establishment of grazing reserves in all states of the Federation and FCT would throw open the door of the cattle trade to all Nigerians, at least in their respective states. Since the governors of the states control the land, citizens of the states cannot be deprived of the use of grazing reserves.  The point being made here is that since the cattle are not being bred in the North, any Nigerian with his or her money can go anywhere  to purchase them and bring them to the grazing reserve in his or her state for fattening. This would permanently break the monopoly of the trade and before long, investors could get into the breeding trade involving artificial insemination. More jobs would be created and Nigeria could become an exporter of cows.

The bloody clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and other Nigerians would be laid to rest for ever. Farmlands would be safer and produce would increase. The fallacy that cows could accumulate excessive fat if bred in the South may have been laid to rest by PMB himself when he explained recently to a news media that once the harvest season was over in the North the herds must be moved down South for grazing. In effect the South is just as good as the North for cattle fattening. Allow grazing reserves in all states of the Federation for our collective benefit.

Dr. R. F. Akinyooye ,
Ibadan, Oyo State

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