FAILURE TO FUND AND DEVELOP MODERN AGRIC SYSTEM FUELS INSECURITY AND ETHNIC AGITATION
What started as an economic conflict between Southern Farmers and Northern Herders have taken purely ethnic dimensions, with renewed calls for secession and breakup of the country among Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities. The conflict and agitations that have ensued are in themselves testaments to the failure of capitalism to develop the economy, especially agriculture, as a step to meeting the food’s needs of the country’s growing population.
Capitalism operates solely on the logic and greed of profit-making and primitive accumulation of wealth by any means as against organizing society and running the economy to meet the needs of the working masses. Capitalism, therefore, opposes the need to plan or invest in any venture aimed at meeting the needs of society at large. But at the same time in monopolizing its grip on the economy, it ensures that the minutest of funds are made available while seeking to maximize as much profit as possible. This is the dire situation of agriculture in Nigeria, including education, healthcare, and other sectors of the economy. Therefore, agriculture has been left off in the same primitive conditions as they were in the 20th century, without provision of modern equipment or materials that will ensure that the country will be able to need all of the food meet and indeed have surplus to export.
The breeding of cattle for beef in the country is in a disgraceful condition, so also is the condition of small farm owners. Herders still trek the 810 km distance between Kastina and Oyo States in search of pastures to feed their cattle. As pointed out this is a consequence of capitalism seeking to spend as little as possible while getting as much labour as possible to ensure they reap a huge profit. But this is the 21st century, and herders shouldn’t be made to go through this enormous toil to feed and nurture their livestock; it is an excruciating journey that no one should wish on another human. The billionaire owners of these herds, who also double as members of the ruling elites, are herein exploiting the full mobile of the non-sedentary lifestyle of the Fulani Ethnic national, but this in itself demonstrates the unprogressive and primitive outlook of the ruling elites. Argentina exports beef just the same way Nigeria exports oil, but modern agricultural technology has been adapted to the country’s cattle farming in such a way that cattle are fed in confinement and even genetically modified for herders to get the best out of them in terms of milk or beef.
Climate change has further negatively impacted cattle rearing and farming in the North most especially, with the shrinking of the Lake Chad basin and reduced rainfall per annum. Without a conscious all-embracing programme to modernize agriculture altogether by the ruling elites, pasture seeking was ever bound to cause conflict as herders move into the South descending on the farmlands, occasioning losses on farmers. Even where governments in the past had programmes like “Operation Feed the Nation”, and “Green Revolution”, they have been mainly aimed at diverting funds, through inflating contracts for importing fertilizers, and largely used by the same members of the ruling elites to acquire land mass that they soon appropriate for their private owned estates.
It is important to note that the tattered herders often do not own the cattle they tend. It is the big cattle owners, some of whom are political office holders, who employ and arm these herders. Like every capitalist venture, they prefer to maintain the traditional way of feeding cattle freely than adapting a system of buying hay to feed their cattle in confinements. The Buhari regime ignorantly pretends not to know that the situation is getting worse by the day and that it needs to put in place a master-plan of massive state investment in agriculture, with the right of herders and farmers democratically managing the production of cattle and crops to meet the food needs of the people of the country. This is the only basis by which the coming implosion can be avoided, create stable and decent jobs and restore the division of labour between these two agricultural workers as mutual and necessary for all. And that unable to achieve this the Buhari regime needs to immediately admits its failure, vacate power and allow the working masses to take full control of society themselves. Rather than do this, the Buhari regime prefers to embark on propaganda to rouse its Northern base as a counter-weight to the growing agitation from the south and by so doing fanning the embers of ethnic agitation that is increasingly growing into a wildfire.
The Movement for A Socialist Alternative (MSA) stand opposed to this approach of government, as counterproductive, in the same way, we are also opposing the invasion of farmland, destructions of crops, kidnapping and even killing of farmers or herders as well. While at the same time agreeing that the Buhari regime cannot be trusted or relied upon and supporting the formation of democratic and organized protection of the community by members of the community to protect their farmlands up to the extent of bearing arms, we categorically also say that the herders are not the enemy, they like farmers too are workers, who slaving hard to provide for the country the huge demand for meat consumption. What is needed is a worked-out plan to unite poor farmers and herders together as a first step to placing before the whole of society a demand of the necessary investment of society’s wealth to allow for the needed modernization of agriculture in all her sectors.
Some Governors in the South, especially the South-West, have latched on the tragedy of the people to divert attention from the immeasurable failures of these administrations. They made different promulgations from banning grazing to creating an unarmed security outfit, named “Amotekun”, which are no more than crying with the bereaved to rob them of their goodwill. These Governors are as guilty as the federal government, they all subscribe to capitalism and agriculture is underfunded in their respective states. In Oyo State, for example, “…in the 2021 total budget of N268.8 billion, comprising N137.20 billion recurrent and N131.57 billion for capital expenditures, only N9,575,049,923.14 (N9.5 billion), representing 3.6 per cent of the total, is allocated to the sector.” (ngrguardiannews.com 22nd January 2021). The federal government earmarked 5% of the 2021 budget, which shows the bi-partisan understanding among the governments of the two major capitalist parties to underfund agriculture, which is the major cause of the conflicts and killing, we are now witnessing in our communities.
The point must also be made that crop production is not in any way better off, most downtrodden farmers still operate with primitive tools, with no support provided. The grants claimed to be provided under the several agricultural schemes by the government are mostly cornered by the cronies of the ruling class. The growing tension between the Northern herders and the Southern communities must therefore be pinned on the failure of the ruling elites. The Buhari’s regime is responsible for nursing a sore into gangrene. However, the government benefits immensely from the diversion of attention away from its mismanagement of Nigeria’s resources and the inability of capitalism to develop the means of production as a step to meeting the needs of the working masses.
The working class has a huge role to play in uniting farmers and herders to direct their anger against a capitalist government that hides behind division to loot Nigeria and underdevelop the country. In this direction, Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress should put forward demands for the federal and state governments to fund agriculture adequately from the annual budget. But more importantly, is also the need to organize the entire working masses to GET ORGANISED and employ the superiority of her numbers to bring an end to the Buhari regime and put in place workers’ and Farmers Government that will seek to nationalize the commanding heights of the economy to access the funds to develop agriculture all other sectors of the economy. Such a Workers and Farmers’ Government to be able to do this must break with capitalism and enshrine on her banner: SOCIALISM.