The episodes of killings that Nigeria has witnessed in recent times are not new. While conceding that, I must however immediately submit, that they bear the trappings of an expansionist agenda that works against the spirit of unity that the Nigerian spirit actively espouses and passionately promotes.
The Herdsmen killing problem of Nigeria is partially caused by the trap of conspicuous consumption in which we find ourselves. We must eat meat regardless of the price or the circumstances of its availability. The average Nigerian family has a cultural affinity to meat and its consumption. Despite recurring warnings from Nutritionists about the hazards of red meat, we have continued to consume meat as status symbol. The man whose morsels of Fufu and Eba are accompanied with sizeable chunks of obstructive meat in soups is seen as living well regardless of his heart condition and so by extension, whether agreeable or not, we are slaves to the average Herdsman. His meat is a god on dining sets and at eateries across the length and breadth of Nigeria. The need to eat meat is therefore a remotely connected, yet powerful but unmoderated driver of the killings at Benue.
How many of you will survive without meat in your soups? We copy the White man per opportunity but not in their prescriptions for diet. Our consumption at Ipetumodu and Mbiase forms the fundamentals of the industry. Nothing will change till that also changes. Shake the demand side a bit and see a calming down.
But what do the killings say about the profiles of the Herds and their owners. If I were a Herdsman, I wouldn’t kill my market. I would be concerned about corporate social responsibility. I would be drawing up plans for increased wallet and market share. While I will have security as a concern, I will more than any other thing conceptualize how cows can be supplied via electronic orders placed on my website. I’d be having sleepless nights on how I can even do more than I am currently doing in huge sales per day. I would be concentrating on the mechanics for a Cows-on-Demand Business Model.
See, I believe that technology can redefine daily living and so will be guided by the need to consider 21st century thinking for an Ottoman Empire trade. It is what is going on in developed countries so why not here? So the run of herdsmen, reflects the ownership, and the entire value chain. Who are the faces behind them? Owners of these businesses must be exposed, not for shaming, but for needful update on how to manage consumers, regulate markets, retain external relations and social responsibility. Our herdsmen should consider CSR, for starters. Their owners should attend business school. If they can’t, why are we one country where basic thinking on a simple subject as mutual exchange of value between Herdsmen and communities is so polarized. Or do we have a consensus?
We cannot blame President Buhari any longer. He boldly declared already in 2015, 3 good years ago that there is a limit to his performance due to old age. We are nonetheless the fools at fault for building gallant expectations against expressed inability.
May the blessed departed souls of the people of Benue (whom I love so much), Adamawa, Taraba and Plateau rest in peace. Amen.