Calls for a ban on beef and cattle farming in the southwest and southeast of the country are neither disconcerting nor surprising.
First, the calls came from expected neighborhoods; the Banned Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.
If they had come from unexpected quarters, it would have seriously surprised a lot of people.
But these two people who made the call have long been advocates of a paradigm shift that, for them, will serve a political purpose, however fleeting.
Their target is not the cow or its ox. It is a call for an economic boycott of an old business which, unfortunately, is deliberately linked to the activities of certain criminal elements among Fulani herders whose main occupation was cattle herding as a way of life and subsistence.
From a broader perspective, their calls for a ban on Northern or Fulani cows or their meat in the East and South West is an attempt at economic sabotage that will affect millions of Nigerians, state and federal governments. which at each stage of the ‘cow’ rakes the value chain into billions of naira in revenue and internally generated revenue (IGR).
They both forget that a cow is more than just a four-legged animal destined only for our pots and pallets, but a value chain that provides sustenance for millions of families in Nigeria and beyond.
To say the least, the cow is part of our economy like any other commodity and has more by-products in its value chain than most locally produced or imported commodities.
To set the record straight, livestock since colonial times has been a channel for generating revenue for the northern regional government in the form of Jangali (cattle tax).
The trade in hides and skins, mainly slaughtered cattle, was a major export activity for the colonial government, as was groundnut (peanut) exported to England and other European countries.
While no one will tolerate the criminality perpetrated by some herdsmen, misinformed advocates for the banning of livestock and its products in their areas should remember the benefits they have been and still are part of their lives and economy. .
A popular saying is Hausa refers to the cow as “Nagge dadi goma” which could literally be translated as “cattle is worth 10 times”.
This is indeed the reality when one considers the many things deriving from a cow that have economic value and benefits.
In the north there are popular cattle markets in almost every state which provide livelihood for people which has been replicated in the southern part where most of the cattle end up as meat including its hide, which is a sought-after delicacy in most southern dishes. .
Advocates of the ban should be reminded that the trucks loaded with cows being transported south were not made in a factory. They are the products of the toil and sweat of people in remote areas who spend years raising them and bringing them to their markets to sell.
They are brought to the markets in pairs, threes and fours to do to the population what they see on the highways in trucks.
These trucks and their loads bring billions in revenue to every state they pass through on their way south, apart from the threat of touts who exploit them and impose unofficial levies on them.
They ended up in slaughterhouses where they are processed into meat and other by-products that translate and generate money.
Nothing that comes from a cow is wasted, all of its meat, skin, blood and waste is used as food, animal feed (chicken, fish) or as manure on farms.
So to see a cow as only meat is short-sighted and narrow thinking, whether it comes from a hideous element or from a “learned” politician who once advocated pork or “pig” as a replacement for cow and “beef” in the Southwest.
If one may ask: do these people calling for a ban know how many truckloads of cattle are coming into their states or how much their state governments and “beaters” are collecting from cattle dealers, truck drivers, butchers and other people as income on this money? productive value chain?
Does IPOB ever consider how leather from cows raised and killed in the North supports the Aba shoe factory?
If they are serious in their agitation to oppose all things cow, they should have forced the Aba cobblers to boycott cowhide and work synthetic leather or ban kponmo throughout the South- East.
Governor Akeredolu’s call for a beef ban should have been extended to kponmo, shaki, roundabout, etc. in Ondo State and replaced by the pork it boasted.
A ban on kponmo in the South West may cost many politicians their seats, as the electorate will surely retaliate and remove them for doing just that.
If we were all to think like Governor Akerodolu, eating kponmo, a large percentage of which is found in both regions, would be considered economic sabotage.
In economic terms, cowhide processed and consumed as kponmo in the country instead of being exported as leather costs the country billions of dollars.
Cow hides and the skins of other animals raised in the North have over the years provided raw materials for the leather, food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
It is also one of Nigeria’s largest non-oil exports, generating over $75.3 million in revenue.
According to reports, Nigerians consume about 1 million metric tons of cow meat annually, 30% of which is kponmo.
The Kponmo business is itself part of the vast value chain that proponents of the cow meat ban ignore.
The cow-derived delicacy is also exported to Europe and America for Nigerians in those countries to satisfy their appetite for local Nigerian dishes with kponmo as a major component.
In an interview with Channels Television on Sunrise Daily last year, Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture Abisola Olusanya revealed that 1.8 million head of cattle are consumed in Lagos every year.
She did not, however, say that the Lagos State government would ban the trade, but would find ways to establish ranches and expand its potential agricultural frontiers.
According to the commissioner, since the state is the largest market for meat, it would be more important economically if it set up ranches.
She said: “We would like to develop what we can do in the red meat sector. Lagos consumes well over 1.8 million head of cattle annually. We consume more than 6,000 head of cattle daily.
“When you look at the transaction value of livestock alone for Lagos, it’s over 328 billion naira, but we’re not producing anything.”
She said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was working on the plan and would involve investors who might be interested in the venture.
It was the thought of a forward-looking governor who, while pondering how to profit from a business, did not impose a ban on something he knows has contributed to the economic development of his state.
On the other hand, the other defenders have been blinded in their judgement, that they have forgotten the fact that the people they want to ban from eating beef or cow are also engaged in economic activities provided by its chain of value. It’s an unbridled feeling that takes over our ability to think positively to our own detriment.