By Noble Uche Agbaeze
Before expatiating on the fact in issue, I humbly appeal that we first allow ourselves to be properly guided by the following positions of the law, first is Section 24 (d) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) which empowers every citizen of Nigeria to make positive and useful contributions to the advancement, progress and well-being of the community where he resides, second is that of Section 4 of the same 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) regarding a national assembly member which is an obligatory cloak constitutionally on the person of Distinguished Senator Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu and the third is that of Section 39(1) which also fundamentally guarantees freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference for every person.
Another intrinsic issue is, in followership to Senator Kalu my voice and pen are behind the advocacy for the government to expunge all criminal elements that may have infiltrated cattle rearing by any means possible, the real persons must be separated from the terrorists, bandits, rapists, kidnappers, cattle rustlers and arm robbers, this is a strange trend from what we used to know about Nigerian cattle herders.
Now, on the fact in issue, Kalu’s comments on RUGA, those who are learned in the area of constructions and interpretations of statutes know that they are important rules to apply to understand the true meaning of words as used in a statement, apart from the Literal rule which seem to be the only one applied by the crowd, we also have other rules like the Purposive rule, Ejusdem generis, Ut res magis valeat quam pereat, Golden Rule, Expressio unius est exclusio alterius, etc.
I apply this in my daily living to understand people better when they communicate.
At the extant case we must apply a purposive interpretation to understand Senator Kalu very well, we must look at the intent and the defect he was seeking to cure, I have gone through so many opinions on Senator Kalu’s interview, so frivolous and laughable, few notable persons have also said we do not have RUGA in Abia, however that is relatively correct to the extent that we do not have the same RUGA exactly as formerly proposed by the Federal Government and Senator Kalu never also said he established RUGA as exactly fashioned by the Federal Government.
Anyone saying so is not correct. What is RUGA? RUGA means Rural Grazing Area, and that is what Kalu meant from the sense of the definition of the Acronym and not from the same sense as regards the structure and modality of that as proposed by the Federal Government, it is obvious that he was misconstrued by our people.
With due respect his statement is correct from the purposive interpretation and from the natural meaning of the acronym, he provided Rural Grazing Area, is as simple as that, it is now left for people to verify the details of his own kind of Rural Grazing Area, and see the things contained therein, it does not qualify for the kind of bitterness I have seen, we are not in a state of nature rather in civility.
Some said he only provided cattle market, so long as the cattle graze in a controlled area to live before being sold, it is RUGA, remember some of them stay for months even years before being sold. Read his interview again with unbiased mind you will understand this, you will also see where he differed from the recently suspended RUGA program in modality.
Flowing from the above, Senator Kalu has without equivocations, held his opinion on the herders/farmers conflict with the view to proffering proportionate and perpetual solution.
I have visited, transacted and benefited from the cattle settlement he referred to, in his recent interview, just like very many of our people, most of them are those who have taken to different media platforms to ethnocentrically, unfairly and laughably criticize him on trifles and trivialities devoid of objective reasoning not premised on relativism.
The problem here is that many of us are now getting used to maliciously and acrimoniously holding prejudiced and biased opinions on important issues in our country today, a behavior being motivated by already existing cynicism and animosity we hold against certain persons and when some other persons hold opinions similar to that of those we have already condemned in our minds then we quickly and uncontrollably give vent to our anger on them, otherwise I do not see the worthiness and reasonableness in the kind of nasty and brutish abuses some of our people took to the social media to render on respected personality like Distinguished Senator Kalu.
It is baffling that even very exposed and highly educated persons could allow tribe, religion and political differences override their rational and empirical senses of judgement inherent in the conscience of every human.
In all the attacks on Kalu’s opinion and revelation, I did not see any of them that validly punctured and vacated the facts and truth contained in that interview, which is, that he was able as a governor to guide the herders and farmers in Abia state to love one another, maintain mutual relationship and do their different farming occupations concurrently, for our information there used to be huge presence of cattle herders in Abia state. In all the vituperations and brutish attacks, no one was able to say his assertions are falsehood.
We should be able to control our emotions to hold objective opinions and respect those that hold divergent opinions from ours especially in a democratic civilized society, everyone must agree with you all the time otherwise the person turns to be evil, that is extremist ethnocentrism which is inimical to entire human existence.
I also have where my opinion diverged a little from the structure and modality of the proposed RUGA program which I equally decorously, respectfully and objectively communicated and today President Buhari in his wisdom has already suspended the program.
The truth is that cattle rearing is a good agricultural venture to every nation that is doing it well and I believe the best thing that will work in this country now is Ranching where comfortable shelters with electricity, water and security for the herders shall also be provided but not building separate basic amenities inside the settlement for the herders, that is part of the things causing fear in supposed host communities, believing it means forcefully ceding their lands as supposed overlords.
Building separate schools, hospitals, markets and other amenities inside the settlement would prima facie misrepresent the government as importing a different community into another as a separate segment of it without the fair opportunity for exchange of values like culture, languages, marriages, religion, etc between the settlers and the host communities and such would not have represented the principle of national integration, social integration and shall not promote national unity and oneness, but when the settlers and host communities are conscientized to willfully and jointly use those amenities together, the settlers will then naturally recognize the dictates, rules of conducts and way of life of the host communities so long as they are not repugnant to equity, natural justice and good conscience and not at variance with Nigerian Laws.
The settlers and host communities shall then gradually adjust their ideologies and conducts to accommodate one another, with languages, marriages, religions and cultures being exchanged and the fear of nursing evil against each other assuaged, people empowering each other economically devoid of tribe, this is very close to what I saw at Dr. Kalu’s kind of RUGA settlement and that is why I believe the entire nation should further advance on Kalu’s strategic template of success on resolving the herders/farmers conflict.
I have transacted at the said settlement provided by Kalu, in one of the occasions I misidentified one Northerner to be from the East because of the extent he spoke Igbo language until I caught him when he mispronounced one word. This is what I saw, people in that settlement are happy with each other, some are Igbo, Fulani, Yoruba and so on.
All of us should encourage cattle business with every sense of responsibility, it is not even done by a particular tribe as we are saying, perhaps people from the south also consume beef more than the North because nothing is deemed to have been done well in the south especially in Southeast without first buying life cow including burials and no pot of food is complete without the popular ‘nama’ meat, so anyone from the south who is disparaging cattle rearing is simply hypocritical, blowing hot and cold at the same time.
To those making the laughable argument that cattle rearing is a private business, let me respectfully remind us that cattle rearing is part of agriculture and Nigerian government has been in the business of subsidizing and supporting agriculture, how many of us know that just recently the Central Bank of Nigeria distributed 30 Billion Naira to oil palm farmers across 11 states from the south and currently working with stakeholders to make quality palm seedlings and agro-chemicals available to them for improved cultivation, at the same time placed palm oil under the forex exclusion list to boost the business.
Over 82 billion Naira was invested in farming by the Federal Government through the Anchor Borrowers Progamme (ABP) in 2018 and over 350,000 farmers benefited, 8 new rice mills have come on-stream by this government, the government also in partnership with Morocco have revitalized 12 blending fertilizer plants which produced and distributed over 12 million bags to farmers across the country in 2018, the CBN is also currently working on pumping in Billions of Naira for other crop productions such as cocoa, cashew and cassava.
Fish production is also in progress. These are also part of agriculture just like cattle rearing is, under animal husbandry.
Billions of Naira have also been and are still being released to the south through the Bank of Industry (BOI) and other institutions and agencies to support industrialization and commerce and nobody is talking about them. Please let us stop making wrong and unconscionable arguments.
It is important that we develop the attitude of extricating ethnocentrism and embracing relativism whenever we are holding opinion towards issues of national importance to ensure we are holding the best conscionable objective opinion, we need to search and obey our conscience, we need to support President Buhari in providing good governance to all Nigerians.
Where our opinion differ we need to also respectfully communicate them. That is the way to build a strong comfortable nation.
Abia North Constituent wrote in from Abuja.
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