By MC Asuzu
In spite of all the troubles that we have had and continue to have in relation with this country called Nigeria, it is a sure fact that the number of people praying for her and doing all that they can to make her survive and become the great nation that it should be are enormous, compared with the truly very few that are disparaging her! These people who have become discouraged about the country and including those who would prefer her death and utter disintegration, are quite small indeed. That is, for anybody who has bothered to discuss this matter in any objective ways with people, from the grassroots to the highest levels of political sophistication.
Incidentally, our privileges of being a disciplinary public health as well as a professional community health worker, give us access to all these levels of Nigeria’s citizenry to be able to do this. There is no doubt that there is also a very small proportion of Nigerians who desire her not to get disintegrated but rather to continue in this ever-going and even growing misery; apparently because of the silly advantages they believe that they are getting from all these miseries. This silly but very small group of Nigerians are the ones who assure us, ever so often, that they do not know what restructuring Nigeria means, that the word is meaningless, or that nobody may do any such thing unless they want war! So, it is not difficult at all to identify such people. People who know them, or rather the people that know those people may be able to be persuaded by them from such very unfortunate postures and dedications, should do their best to do so. They should do so precisely because, obviously the time for such intransigence against all self-evident need of everybody, the need for all to join in pursuing the universal common good of all, is running out!
As very few as these hegemonists may be, these people who desire the age-long Nigerian evil situations to continue, they are also the ones who believe that nearly one full century after the miserable and animalistic ways of forest wondering cattle and other animal rearing must continue to be the way to do this in Nigeria. This is in spite of the fact that everybody knows that in the Middle Eastern countries where this was their complete ways of life from antiquity, all of these have come to an end for about a century now! Cattle and other animal ranching has become the proper way to do this – even in such places that surface water ordinarily is generally difficult to get. Surely the people of Israel will be the best example of this.
But even Saudi Arabia and all the other Middle Eastern countries are well advanced in this modern and very civilized way to live. Why are these Nigerians interested in the very worst that can come out of her, except for themselves, kept insisting that this primitivity must be the case? All the evidence that this had always been a fraud are there for all to see!
Apart from my personal experiences, having lived as well as significantly travelled and visited virtually every part of Northern Nigeria as a grassroot person (with the exception of Lake Chad itself, and the towns of Nguru, Kaura Namoda, Arugungu and Brinin-Kebbi) every knowledgeable person that I have asked in this regard confirm what my personal knowledge and experiences are, regarding underground water in Northern Nigeria. This fact is that nationally, underground water is easiest to get in the country in Northern Nigeria.
This is followed by south-western Nigeria; and the very worst in south-eastern Nigeria. Therefore besides irrigation for cattle rearing purposes from surface waters, which is obviously a more difficult task in northern Nigeria, the situation with the underground sourcing will be the exact opposite! And in speaking of land availability, some single states in northern Nigeria have more land than all the states in south-eastern Nigeria put together. So you will ask yourself, what do these hegemonists get from insisting that we must live in the primitivity, fugitive forest wondering, cattle rearing; or that they must do so in regions of Nigeria with severe scarcity of land for their utterly needed plant and vegetable agriculture? What do they get from witnessing and apparently enjoying these unnecessary land use conflicts where land is scarce while leaving the very places that God has so abundantly blessed us with enormous land as well as easily available underground water for irrigation for modern ranching as the way to farm animals in the modern world?
It was never as to say that these people did not know all these things all of the time past. So, why did they insist on all these miseries? Why has the governor of Kano State suddenly learnt about how easy as well as very cheap it is to do this – as he has started doing? Why and how has the governor of Kaduna State suddenly developed the knowledge and planning skills in this regard that he is now ready to sweep Nigeria off its feet with the ease of production of all these animal farming productivities that we learn of him now, starting in that state? As they are now embracing and doing these long ignored ways because of other possible less common good dedications, will they also provide the enabling environment for other enterprising Nigerians to be able to join in the business in those (and indeed the other similar northern states) where God has blessed us with these abundances? Or will the hegemonies continue even in this apparently naturally forced realization of what to do for the common good?
Before arriving at this apparently emerging political sanity with the cattle rearing saga, we had passed through the evil pathways of the “cattle rearing routes” and the cattle rearing “Ruga Settlements” in places with land scarcities, compared with where land was there in undisputable abundance. But now that sanity would seem to have started coming to us, shall we pray these people to allow for the pursuit of the common good of all Nigerians by all Nigerians everywhere? I personally glorify God when I go around south western Nigeria and see all these “northern boys” doing the okada and very similar small-scale businesses. Even though they do it so recklessly and with little literacy and traffic regulation knowledge or observance, we must all rise with the regulations, education/training and the legal enforcements necessary for the good of us all, starting with them – for we love them so dearly! This is in their own interests, to reduce the rampant accidents, damages to themselves and other people’s properties, and the much more accident deaths for themselves. I also see them in the south-east and south-south, even in more enterprising endeavours as providing deep sanitary wells and borehole services there, and at far lower prizes than our other brothers there are doing them for!; etc.
That is very good indeed. Such reciprocity will be needed in the north with the cattle rearing business for people from all these southern regions. That is how we shall heal; and the common good promoted for all Nigerians as due. Let us do these so that God’s blessings and the development of a country that will be a true nation rather than the “mere geographical entity” and/or “the mistake of 1914” of “our heroes past” will come to an end; to the glory of God and our human happiness, ALL! God bless Nigeria!
Asuzu is retired professor of public health and community medicine, University of Ibadan.