Miyetti Allah: Forging New Identity For Herdsmen

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Miyetti Allah, simply interpreted, we offer thanks to the Almighty Allah (SWT), is a social-cultural organisation whose cardinal principles are to articulate, harness and guide members of the body to live meaningful lives. The organisation’s motto is not only revealing, and apt but equally illuminating. “JENGE” simply means Read, “Ndeme” Farming, while Ndure stands for, “Rear Cattle”.

It was an injunction handed down by no one else than the great liberator, emancipator of peoples from pagan worship, and barbarism, Usman Dan Fodio.  Its motives as an umbrella organisation geared towards the socio-economic emancipation of its members remains relevant today as it was several decades ago. Unfortunately, it has remained in the doldrums for decades as modernity passed it by.

Interestingly, a wind of change swept across its parlous state two years ago when some good spirited Nigerians and right thinking Nigerians sought it’s re-birth from comatose state so that noble ideals of its founding father can be upheld. These Nigerians sought to rekindle the hopes and aspirations inherent in its preamble. They recognise the huge potentialities it offers to the cattle breeders on one hand, and on the other, the nation at large. How can any serious nation overlook the stupendous socio-economic benefits that can accrue to its common wealth if the association was enabled to thrive according to the ideas of it founder, Usman Dan Fodio?

For decades, these important members of the Nigeria State have been abandoned to their own designs, anguish, and near Spartan life. They have been left on their own to face the vicissitudes of a very hazardous profession. They have over the years remained the proverbial “monkey no fine, but people like am” meaning, while the monkey may not be attractive in looks, people savourits meat.

Have we ever  caressed the thought of food without meat. How about the Yoruba’s without kpomo, and Shaki, and the pepper soup joints without the famous cow-tail, intestines. What of the hunch of the cow, its cow-leg, trotters, tongue, and liver? Don’t tell me that we can supplement meat with fish. How is that feasible, when fresh or dry fish is a luxury reserved only for the affluent in society. What am I trying to illustrate? It is simply that in neglecting our cattle breeders, we are inadvertently neglecting our own existence. The Holy scriptures eloquently portray this aspect of the importance of cattle, as our Creator himself reminds us of the goodness of the Cattle.

How about its milk products? Whether it is the foreign Peak, Dano, or Crown Milk, they are all by-products of milk drained out of the cattle’s intestines.

The south-east is proud of its pan-cultural and political organization “Ohanaeze”, the west identifies with its radical “Oduduwa” People’s Congress (OPC), while the North lay claim to its Arewa. While elites of the south-east consciously identify with “Ohanaeze” and the south-west listens has the OPC, the same cannot be said of “Arewa”. Most often, this organisation while pretending to be the mouth piece of the North, ends up only as a toothless bull-dog-barking. There is not any cohesiveness in its pronouncements, and even when they are, they are usually discordant views by the elites who ought to give bite to Arewa. In point of fact, the North has become too fractured with numerous so-called leaders with daggers drawn at each other.  It is this seemingly rudderless position that the association wants to fill. This palpable void have in recent years, rendered the North politically impotent. If the motto handed down by the founding genius, Usman Dan Fodio, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and succeeding Sultans of Sokoto harnessed, the North would have made giant strides in its effort at redressing the socio-economic imbalance between the North and South.

Alas, succeeding Northern leaders, both at state and national level, have allowed the conundrum to persist. What happened to the colossal sums appropriated for Nomadic Education? How has it impacted on the supposedly direct recipients, the North and the nation at large? Where these huge sums properly accounted for? Or merely served as conduits to siphon money into the pockets of those mandated to manage the nomadic education?

Can we attempt a general nationalisation of what impact products of Nomadic Education would have had on the North, and the nation?

How about “Ndene” farming as advocated by Usman Dan Fodio? Agriculture was once the mainstay of the North, just as it was in the entire country before the decrovery of oil. What happened to the groundnut pyramids, hides and skins , and the Tannery Industry. And how do we explain that the north that possess most of the earth dams has not been able to increase its cash products. Have the authorities both at the local, state, and national levels attempted any concerted analysis at measuring the Agricultural potential of the North, projected revenue from its agricultural production, and its short comings?

How about “Ndure” the policy of rearing cattle as enunciated by Usman Dan Fodio? Of course, we admire the diary products of nations like Denmark, Australia, and Holland, and we spend billions of dollars every year in importing dairy products from the aforementioned countries. Had we been serious, the reverse may have been the case, and this vexing cap in  hand policy would have been a thing of the past.

Any nation that successfully harnesses its educational institutions , farming and cattle breeding prowess has no reason  envying any oil producing country. We are already aware of the thousands of cattle imported from New Zealand by Saudi Arabia during the Holy Pilgrimage. Couldn’t Nigeria have benefitted from this stupendous market with its proximity to the middle-east? How on earth did succeeding governments since independence neglect such staggering socio-economic potentials? How?


It can only be in a country like Nigeria where the goose that lays the golden egg is palpably neglected. In conventional economic sense, cattle breeding is equally as important, and perhaps far more important than oil. Whilst oil is a diminishing product, cattle breeding continues until eternity.

Our Creator is aware ofthe existence of the black gold because he created it in the first place but hammered on the aspect of cattle because in His infinite wisdom recognized which of the two was superior to the other.

The U.S, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Holland protect their cattle breeders with all their might. Their associations are as important, if not more important. How is it permissible not to have had a comprehensive cattle breeding law backed by legislature? What of the “Grazing policy” with its designated routes? how did it go up in flames? Over time, our herdsmen were entitled to 415 grazing areas, but with population influx,and the demand for farm lands, firewood, etc. there have been a cruel competition of interests between both parties- Herdsmen versus Farmers. Also we have witnessed an unbridled quest to push out Herdsmen from designated grazing areas.

Encroachment on grazing areas and even routes has becomepolicy. Whether it is in Agatu, Demsa or Enugu, urban population drift has altered the grazing equation, and unfortunately, while the farmer will do everything humanly possible to have his say, the same is not required of the herdsmen. Not only that nature by way desertification is having its toll on herdsmen and like nature demands, Herdsmen are confronted with a pathetic situation of watching his cattle nursed from birth die from starvation and thirst.

It is this palpable neglect and seemingly scorched earth policy towards Herdsmen that has created this lingering animosity between the two parties to the conflict.

Again, and it is most unfortunate that the media whose prescribed role is to educate and inform prefers siding with one party to the conflict.  Herdsmen without justification are the eternal culprits, and as such vilified and called unprintable names. Nobody cares to rationalise their agony enables us put meat on our tables. Nobody cares to rationalise their agony that enables us put meat on our tables. Nobody writes on the dilapidated infrastructure, and the effect of blocked dam on Herdsmen. The Herdsmen are usually in the eye of the storm, and coupled with the ineptitude and lackadaisical methods of previous executive members of MACBAN only worsened the situation.

The new MACBAN Executive that came into effect a little over two years ago has decided pull the bull by its horns. They have set in motion policies to revamp MACBAN to enable it compete on equal terms with other sister organisations spread across the globe.

But to achieve this agenda it is pertinent to address some of the remote causes that have tended to militate against peaceful co-existence between the Herdsmen and Farmers.

— Mo Joe, a public affairs analyst, wrote in from Abuja

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