INSECURITY AND BANDITRY IN YORUBA LAND AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR FOOD SECURITY.
BY PROFESSOR SOJI ADEJUMO
PAPER DELIVERD AT THE PAN YORUBA CONGRESS HELD ON WEDNESDAY 17 MARCH, 2021 AT MAPO HALL
I greet all Yoruba sons and daughters gathered here today to grace this all important Yoruba Congress. I also salute the courageous sons and daughters of Yorubaland who have resisted all efforts both overt and subtle to subvert the holding of this summit. It is clear that the Yoruba resolve cannot be broken by sheer banditry, intimidation, psychological pressures and political subterfuge.
First a brief history of the Yoruba Race.
By archaeological Investigations, the Totality of Nigeria is the racial heartland of the Yoruba race. Therefore ALL non-Yorubas in Nigeria are immigrant aliens! (Olubunmi, 2011). This assertion has also been scientifically proven.
The Yoruba people predate any other tribe in Nigeria. Yoruba DNA has been found in human remains in all parts of Nigeria dating back to 12000 years ago (before any other known tribe in Nigeria) and Yoruba recorded civilization started around 1000 BC. The earliest records of ANY other tribe in Nigeria were between 400-500 years ago. The first known human remains dug up in Nigeria was at Iwo Eleru and was carbon dated to 9000 BC while Ife civilization has been dated from 4000 BC to 1000 BC.
Today, the Yoruba race consists of about 30-40 million people spread across western Nigeria and the diaspora.
Historical evidence showed that the Yoruba people prospered when they were integrated and perished when they became fragmented.
Agriculture in Yoruba land has been traced to 3000 BC. At that time, the entire race lived in abundance and in full food and political security. How did we get to this sorry stage of almost total dependence on the North for our daily food items?
Let us do a short digression.
Let us consider this Economic Trade scenario between the United States of America and some other countries and the impact on America’s political and economic policies.
America and Russia. America’s export to Russia is about $10Billion and America’s Imports about $24Billion goods. The trade deficit is just $14 Billion. No quarrels. No banditry. There is a two-way flow of goods and money
America and Iran
Little or no trade between both countries. No quarrels. No banditry.
America and China
America exports totaled $106.4 billion; goods imports totaled $451.7 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with China is about $345.2 billion. Big quarrel.
America and South Korea. US Exports $50Billion of goods to South Korea and imports about the same amount of goods. No quarrels. No banditry.
Now the Nigeria Story: BANDIT COUNTRY
I think it will be very appropriate if the Murtala Muhammed airport (and I am not sure if the North would allow an airport in the North to be named after M.K.O Abiola), bears the banner: WELCOME TO NIGERIA; BANDIT COUNTRY.
The argument for or against that however, is not within my purview here.
Looking at trade situation between the North and the western region, It is very instructive that the head of the World Trade Organisation is a Nigerian, Yet the Country suffers the greatest trade imbalance, internationally and nationally. Very disturbingly, what concerns us here is the national imbalance.
Agriculture And Food Security In Nigeria
In the South the warm temperatures and the long rainy season, which extends from April to October (mean annual rainfall around 400 centimeters [cm]), promote the growth of lush vegetation such as mangrove swamps as well as freshwater swamps and tropical rainforest. The freshwater floodplains of the Niger River are the most agriculturally productive part of the country because of their rich alluvial soils. This area is characterized by extensive tree and root crop farming systems.
The subhumid zone, which has a savannah landscape, accounts for approximately half of Nigeria’s land area and includes the middle belt and northern regions, which are significantly more arid with a rainy season of only four to five months from around May to September. Nutrient runoff, resulting from poor water penetration, combined with a shallow water table mean this region has poorer soil quality. Agricultural productivity in this climactic zone is lower than the floodplains in the South. The dominant farming systems of the North are essentially grain production and livestock production. The extreme North is prone to drought with an average annual rainfall of only about 60 cm, which exposes the land to encroaching desertification and soil erosion.
This part of the country has traditionally supported pastoralists with migratory patterns. Nigeria has relatively abundant freshwater resources; however, water is not evenly distributed across the country and access to it can vary by season and between years. The range in agro-ecological conditions across the country makes Nigeria well suited for diversified food production. About 35 percent of the total land area is fit for crop production with an additional 15 percent of land area suitable for pasturing livestock. With encroaching desertification of the Sudan savannah ecology in the North, pastoralism and cereal production are shifting southward into the areas previously dominated by root and tuber production across the middle belt.
Let us pause here for a minute to digest what I have just said here. The land in the North is getting drier and the Northern governments are unknown to many people investing federal Government money in the expansion of the river basins in the north and promoting massive irrigation for their farmers. These efforts will take a bit of time to yield results so what do they do in the mean time? They move their cattle southwards and take over unused farmlands and even plant crops on such lands. The middle and Southern belts have unwittingly aided them by decreasing their forest lands through massive and continuous felling of their timbre and prime trees without replanting.
Most of the forests in Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ogun States have been cleared of timber without replanting and no food crops are planted. The land has slowly been yielded to the Fulani agro-pastoralists. Meanwhile the North is busy reclaiming its own land while they seize our own lands in our presence.
It is estimated that with the seizure and destruction of our farm lands by the Fulani herdsmen, 1.8 million people become jobless and poor in the South West and middle belt every five years, and the unemployment rate has steadily to about 25
Agriculture in the South and the North and the trade imbalance
The North produces abundance of grains especially sorghum and millet which they also consume in large quantities and maize which they consume less. They also produce huge quantities of beans, pepper, tomatoes, yams and sugar cane which interestingly they do not consume as much, In the issue of sugar cane, the north is the greatest consumer of refined sugar but not the sugar cane they grow. I will discuss the implications of these in a minute.
It is therefore apparent that all southern households source a greater share of our food purchase from the northern regions.
In the Southwest, only 5 percent of our household food consumption comes from what we grow or produce in the South West region.
The North East and North Central regions consume more than 30 percent of their household food production.
Rich households in the South West source only an average of 4 percent of their food from their local own production which is mainly leafy vegetables (efo tete, soko etc).
The villages who depend on agricultural activities for their livelihoods consume nearly 35 percent of what they produce.
The wealthiest southerners consume only 1% of food grown in the South West.
The average northerner consumes at most two to three times a week of the gains they produce and that is usually millet and sorghum while the southerners eat these grains five to six times a week, yet we don’t produce one tenth of our consumption.
The North East and North West regions also have the lowest average frequency for eating meat, fish, egg, and fruit. Yet we are the greatest consumers of their cattle and they hardly eat our eggs as they produce their own chickens. When we over produce eggs and we have egg glut, the North does not buy our eggs.
Therefore on the balance of trade, The North exports livestock (Cattle) and food items worth over N500 Billion every year to the South West and they buy food to the tune of less than N200Million naira from us. The trade imbalance is over N490 Billion naira. The expected result is banditry if they are denied access to our money. Most unfortunately, what they cannot get by trade, they collect through kidnapping thereby making an additional N500 Million to N1Billion from criminal acts like kidnapping and robbery. What a problem for the Yoruba race. No food security, No internal security. If we are able to produce our food, we will not be sending our money out to people who are killing us. If we spend our money on our own production, banditry will reduce. The bandits believe that people who can spend N500 Billion every year to eat meat must have more to pay for their lives if kidnapped.
Some people may argue that Dangote is a Northerner building a tomato paste factory or an oil refinery or a rice mill, but let us not be deceived, the southwest is only working for him to make him richer. The reason is simple; he is sourcing most of the fresh tomatoes from either the northern markets or what he grows on the SouthWest farm lands leased or sold to him by our people. The North is not coming to buy his tomato paste, it is the south and the international market that will buy it, so our money goes into his pocket. To make matters worse, 90% of all senior positions in his companies are held by his foreign partners and foreigners and majority of Nigerians employed are going to be very low cadres jobs like clerks, marketers, cleaners, drivers (mostly northerners) and messengers. The only money coming to the South west are taxes paid to the government which may not do the common man any good. So the balance of trade is still against us.
THE CATTLE TRADE DEFICIT
This is the real tragedy for the South west.
The cattle brought in to destroy our land does not even belong to the herds men. The cattle belongs to the sedentary war lords and business men in Niger and some areas of the North East and North west. The cattle eat our farm crops without any compensation to the farmers and yet we pay exorbitantly for the meat. Lagos state slaughters 6000 cattle every day. Oyo State slaughters 1,800 heads of Cattle. Osun slaughters 800 heads, Ogun State slaughters about 1000, Ondo state 600 and Ekiti state 400. That is a total of 10,600 cattle every day fed free of charge on our farmlands. At a conservative average sale price of N120,000 per cattle, that is N1.3 Billion daily. That is about N475 Billion every year. How can we be pouring N500 billion to the north and we wonder where they got the money to be buying AK 47 at Two million naira a piece. They can afford100 Ak 47 every year with ammunition to go with it. It is or money they are using to buy the weapons they are killing us with!
The Verdict: Food insecurity looming
indigenous farmers are gradually disappearing, food production is declining rapidly, those once classified as migrant labourers are taking over farms and becoming landlords, wetlands are being taken over and farmed for huge profits by migrants particularly from northern Nigeria.
Our young people are becoming increasingly apathetic and demonstrating complete lack of interest in farming. We continue to depend increasingly on imported food items and food from other regions of Nigeria, Increasingly becoming more vulnerable to food insecurity than other parts of Nigeria. The person who supplies you your food may decide to poison you one day.
Southwest Food Items Estimated Dependency On The North
Looking at livestock figures, It is a shame we are allowing cattle to story our lives. Every year, Nigeria produces 200 million of poultry chicken, 20 million cattle, 60 million goats, 40 million sheep and 10 million pigs. Why then do we allow 20 million cattle to destroy our lives when only 4 million cattle is consumed in the South West every year? Can we not afford to rear our own cattle?
With the abundance of money the South West is pouring into the North, it is no wonder the BOKO HARAM are increasingly becoming more daring and belligerent by the day.
Some of them are actually not cattle herders but criminals or terrorist groups using cattle herding as a screen as they not only carry simple traditional weapons of deterrence but sophisticated assault rifles. They have succeeded in driving away farmers from their farm land thus further exposing us to food insecurity
Solution Or Way Forward
The suggested Solutions are two-fold. First is the economic and second is the political. If our goals of restructuring or self-determination are to succeed, the economic battle must first be won. Thereafter the political battle will be easy.
The first requirement is the need for a visionary Yoruba leader with coherent political and philosophical orientation. Such a leader will pioneer innovative development of agriculture in one of the states of the SouthWest that other state governors can imitate or copy.
Next the South West Governors must setup a food security apparatus that will identify the crop and food production specificity of the various states and work in synergy for production and processing.
We are familiar with the fertile agricultural landscape of Oke-Ogun zone of Oyo state that can be complemented by other zones in Ekiti and Osun states. The food from these states can be managed by the SouthWest Food security fund for easy marketing and processing in states like Lagos and Ogun. This will help remove the total dependency on the north for food crops. The Agricultural value chain should be a regional investment of all the states.
2. The River Basins
The river basins were setup to manage the flood plains of the rivers for irrigation, dam construction, water provision and other interventions. A lot is being done in the North but the South is largely neglected. For instance, the Middle Rima Valley Irrigation Project is one of the irrigation developments of the Federal government of Nigeria. The scheme is under the direct supervision and management of the Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority (SRRBDA) with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources playing an oversight function on the project. Located at Keta Village in the Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto State, Nigeria, the scheme is providing water resources for perennial cultivation for farmers. The project is located downstream of Goronyo Dam which is the key structure for irrigation and agricultural development of the area. The scheme provides water for irrigation of an area covering about 5,360 hectares. Is the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority playing a similar role in the SouthWest?
On the other hand, the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority has not been empowered to make use of the Ikere Gorge Dam. This is a clear case of injustice and requires robust pressure from the governors of Oyo and Lagos states.
3. The Ruga Scheme
The Federal Government came up with the “RURAL GRAZING AREA” Scheme but the South West Governors could not form a concerted front to seize the initiative from the Federal Government and make it a Southwest driven Initiative. At the root is the impracticability of open cross country grazing.
This is how it would have worked; Rather than resist the federal Government from seizing state lands for the Fulani herdsmen, the South West states could have asked for money to setup their own ranches and proceed to start cattle fattening programmes of their own. Agriculture and livestock production is not an exclusive function of the federal government. Food production is a concurrent affair.
That way we will not need the Northern herds. We have done it before in the days of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. That was how we had the Western Nigeria Livestock company of the Western Region era.
At its peak in the Western Region days the Western Nigeria Livestock company had a Stock Breeding Centre at Fashola Farm Settlement, Ilora, Oyo State. Other cattle fattening centres were located in Odęda, Imęko, Iperu/Işara(Ogun State), Samonda – Ibadan, Onişę – Ire, Shaki (Oyo State), Oloba – Iwo (Osun State), Agege, Ikorodu (Lagos State), Akunu Akoko (Ondo), Ikun Ekiti (Ekiti State).
The Breed of the Grandparent Stock – The NDAMA was imported from Mali.
The Ndama Cow with an average weight of 500kg was superior in size and disease resistance to the White Fulani and Sokoto Gudali cows weighing just 200-250kg.
The cows were raised in paddocks and fed on pasture in the rainy season under a shifting rotation management of pasture acreage. In the dry season the cows were fed on silage prepared from left over stover stalks after the grains have been harvested.
I am aware Ekiti State government, in conjunction with a private company, has resuscitated the Ikun Cattle Ranch.
There is no doubt that the Fulani herdsmen crisis is of major consequences for Nigeria. There is no other Nigerian ethnic group that would go to another ethnic group territory and claim the ownership of their land except the Fulani. To imagine that they are even killing in Oyo State and other parts of Nigeria to retain ownership and control of illegally seized territories! Such brazing criminality cannot be tolerated nor can it endure. Therefore, each state government must wise up to the crisis and rise up to the occasion. This crisis is also foretelling a session of famine in the nearest future. When farmers cannot go to the farm because of fear, we know there would be no food for the people. Nigeria now has more Nigerians living as refugees in Nigeria than we had during the Civil War. Many states now have Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camp. And there is no end in sight to the crisis.
What would surprise many people is the brazen effrontery of the Fulani headsmen and the Miyetti Allah group backing their terrorist activities. It is interesting that the Fulani herdsmen, who for generation were always armed with the shepherd staff, now have access to automatic machine guns.
Truth be told, the current federal efforts to create grazing corridors, colonies or ranches in the country without the technical input of animal physiologists, nutritionists and breeders will be an exercise in futility as we cannot rely on stone age Abrahamic cattle rearing to propel us into productive national livestock enterprise economy.
The greatest obstacle to accelerated livestock production in Nigeria is the cerebrally deficient land use decree of 1978, later Land Use Act of 1999, inserted into the federal constitution. It blocks access to SYSTEMATIC LAND TITLING AND REGISTRATION.
Over 90% of fallow or ranchable farm land is devoid of legal title which makes legal ownership and protection difficult, hence illegal and destructive grazing by herdsmen thrives.
The recent advice that Government should use unusable farm lands for ranching is turning truth and logic on its head and would create great havoc in the long run if proper land titling and ownership is not done. Who will claim ownership of the land in the future?
Adeniyi (2015) noted that only 3% of the entire land in Nigeria is titled and 99% are urban properties. It took Great Britain 100 years to register and title all their land. That is why one drives around the countryside and sees long stretches of farmland and livestock managed in individually fenced farmlands without any invasive grazing and violence. The European parliament position on land reform reads:
That land tenure reform should begin with accurate land data collection and with systematic titling by means of cadastral mapping using low-cost technologies such as GPS, GPRS and GIS for complete openness and regional sharing of geographical data information systems including satellite and aerial imagery. The parliament congratulates the Republic of Rwanda on the progress it has made with regards to land data which has made it possible to register all land in the country within a remarkable short period. If Rwanda can do it, why not Nigeria?
I urge the national assembly to be bold to repeal this unproductive land use Act, propose a Systematic Land Titling and Registration for all individual, corporate, family, community land owners and provide them with legal titles as capital assets. With this, illegal grazing will be tremendously reduced, livestock production by local communities with access to capital through legal titled documents will radically increase and animal protein supply will improve. It is achievable but requires lots and lots of brains! That is why we need a federal ministry of livestock production or Livestock development.
This is the Ultimate solution but it can only work if we get the economic scenarios described above right. The policed solution is the inevitable TOTAL restructuring of the constitutional arrangement for the governance of Nigeria and prayerfully the separation of the Yoruba nation from the current geopolitical governance of Nigeria to form a Sovereign Republic of Yorubaland with healthy and productive relationships with other sovereign regions or states in the “Old” Nigeria.
God will guide us and guide our leaders aright.
God Bless Yorubaland.
Thank you for your attention
Prof Soji Adejumo.
1. Olubunmi. A.O. (2011). The rise and fall of the Yoruba race. 10000 BC-1960 AD. The 199 Publishing Palace. ISBN 978-245-738-2
2. Adeniyi, P. (2015). Challenges of land governance and land reform in Nigeria, Lagos Journal of geoinformaaugustSciences. Vol 3, ugust Universityersityity of Lagos Press.