I stand on existing protocol.
I was devastated this morning when I heard you recently lost up to 2,000 of your cows to marauding cattle rustlers in Kaduna. I can only imagine what you are going through at this time. I don’t have any cows myself but if I did have any and someone stole them, I’d be mad as hell.
Be that as it may, I don’t think we should spend too much time feeling sad about this issue. The incident presents us with a unique opportunity to tackle this menace. Mr Vice-President, this thing has been going on for a while now and just last month, the papers carried reports of the toll in Plateau state alone:
The Special Task Force (STF) on Jos crisis code-named ‘Operation Safe Haven’ has revealed that 260 people were killed, while 2,501 herds of cattle were rustled in 160 attacks in the state in the last six months by unknown gunmen.
According to the STF, about 1,312 herds of cattle, 88 arms and 2,734 ammunition were recovered during the period
It is not fair that what other people took a whole 6 months to suffer, you have suffered in one day. But we need to properly identify the problem before working out a solution.
Mr. President never fails to remind us of how terrorism and other problems we are facing in Nigeria are a global phenomenon ergo, it is nothing special about Nigeria or a failing of your utterly transformative government. Mr, Vice-President, he is right. Cattle rustling is indeed a global phenomenon. Even in the UK:
Indeed, over the past few years, sheep rustling, that most ancient of crimes, has become a very modern epidemic – so much so that it has made the agenda at this week’s National Farmers’ Union (NFU) annual conference. According to NFU Mutual, the insurance company linked to the union, claims by farmers for stolen livestock rose 170 per cent between 2010 and 2011 – a period of rising meat prices.
In 2012, the most recent year for which there is data, 69,000 sheep, worth an estimated £6 million, were stolen in Britain. Northern Ireland was the worst-affected area, with 28,878 sheep stolen, followed by 18,000 thefts from the ancient upland farms of Northern England. In the South West, there have been 5,901 cases.
The only minor difference is that farmers tend not to get killed there in the name of rustling, but let us not be distracted by that as it is neither here nor there.
In fact, this rustling business was such a problem that the EU has introduced passports for every cow within the European Union. The UK started this passport scheme in 1996:
Cattle born in or imported into Great Britain since 1 July 1996 must have a cattle passport. This identifies them and their movements and must remain with them throughout their lives.
Single page passports (CPP52) are issued by the BCMS. The BCMS also runs the Cattle Tracing System (CTS) database, and is responsible for:
- maintaining a register of births, deaths and imports of cattle used for animal health and subsidy control purposes
- issuing cattle passports
- recording individual cattle whereabouts
- operating a dedicated helpline
- providing online services
The cattle passports include:
details of the animal
details of where it has been throughout its life
details of the animal’s death
Sir, in America the story is the same where drug addicts steal cattle to fuel their addiction.
So as you can see, the story is the same everywhere and it is merely Nigeria’s turn to
enjoy experience what other great countries have been experiencing.
Now that we have all this information, I believe we can launch a 5 point plan to get your cows back and defeat this menace once and for all. I will list the plans below so as not to take up too much of your time.
1. There is no point re-inventing the wheel – We live in an age of viral hashtags and as we have recently seen with the Chibok Girls, it can help in drawing the world’s attention to an issue. Just like the kidnapping of the girls in Chibok was by no means the first such incident, we can use your plight and the number of cows you lost to bring global attention to this issue.
I propose the immediate launch of a #BringBackOurCows hashtag. We need to go big on this so we should use the International Conference Centre Abuja, where your government has launched many things this year alone, as the venue.
I do not know what the musician Zaki Adzay is up to these days, but given newspaper reports of him allegedly beating his wife, I reckon he doesn’t have much going at the moment and will be available for this work. His torchlight and stick can help capture the imagination of the public as a symbolic cattle rearer. Failing that, we can draft Ice Prince Zamani to do the job.
2. We will also need international heavy hitters to do the needful in getting this hashtag to trend. Michelle Obama wouldn’t know a cow if it strolled across the White House lawn and waved to her. So I say we shouldn’t waste time with her.
George W. Bush always played up his image as a Texas cowboy and inspite of all the reputational damage he suffered on account of the Iraq war fiasco, I believe he can do a job for us. An image of he and Laura Bush wearing cowboy hats and sitting on their horses, lasso in one hand, and a #BringBackOurCows placard in the other hand is bound to reverberate across the internet.
It is also a good time to hire Matthew McConaughey given his recent Oscar award and how he likes to play up his Texas cowboy persona. After these 2 specific targets, I’m sure celebrities will be falling over themselves to #BringBackOurCows.
3. Mr Vice-President, we will also need a distraction. Again, what works is what works and no one can deny that the First Lady has done a yeo-woman’s job in the quest to sow doubt about the fate of the missing Chibok girls.
This distraction is important so that we can get the cattle rustlers to let down their guard. We need to raise doubts as to whether any cows were stolen at all and also downplay the number at the same time. Consistency is not required if we want to sow doubt – we can say one thing in the morning and say another in the evening.
The security men at your farm will be brought to Aso Rock and live on NTA, the First Lady can interrogate them with questions like How many people waka come thief a whole 2,000 cows? Na wake dem waka come abi na trailer dem bring? Sekurity, you dey sleep dat time?
It’s a bit awkward that Kaduna where this happened is controlled by your party, the PDP but this is a minor inconvenience. We can simply look for the highest ranking member of the APC from Kaduna and with heavy innuendo, blame him for it. I recommend Mallam Nasir El-Rufai as the target. He talks too much anyway so it wont be hard to get anyone to believe he was behind the dastardly plot to steal your beloved cows.
4. We will need properly targeted demonstrations to ensure they don’t backfire on the government. Thank God Oby Ezekwesili is presently occupied with the matter of the Chibok girls and in any case, it is not on record anywhere that she has a fondness for cows. Nevertheless, we cannot be too careful – any attempt by her to ‘milk’ this protest will be swiftly met with the launch of the hashtag – #EzekwesiliBringBackOurCows to focus the searchlight on her.
We can also sponsor a few people on social media to start alternative hashtags like #ElRufaiBringBackOurCows or #APCBringBackOurCows. This will complement the efforts in point 3 above by creating a distraction that lulls the rustlers into complacency.
Any attempt to pin this incident on insecurity in the country must be robustly countered by Messrs Maku and Okupe that this is a global phenomenon which just happens to be Nigeria’s turn to experience and strongly telling people to direct their protests to the rustlers who stole the cows. This is where we will need the cooperation of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN).
No effort should be spared in mobilising them for protests across the country. You will have to join in these protests and wear whatever the colour of the protest is. I suggest you lead the protests from the front. Where you will be protesting to can be decided later but I suggest a secluded part of town or any forest we can find. We don’t need to go inside the forest – we will merely stand at the entrance and chant #BringBackOurCows.
5. Once we have done the points listed above, there should be no need to send in soldiers to look for the cows. We need to forestall any charges of hypocrisy or ‘one rule for them, another rule for us’ that the opposition are bound to opportunistically jump on.
Once the global pressure has reached boiling point, the rustlers will be overwhelmed by their own conscience and return the cows to your loving embrace. Indeed, this is something that the President’s Senior Special Adviser on Strategy, Mr Oronto Douglas was recently quoted as saying in the New York Times:
I have reason to believe Boko Haram will see reason and let these girls go,” said Oronto Douglas, special adviser on strategy to Mr. Jonathan, in an interview this week. “I think they will have a conscience to let these girls go
I strongly believe this. They will #BringBackOurCows to us and there will be newspaper pictures of you being reunited tearfully with your cows. If we move quickly, we can get the cows back before the rustlers are tempted to start eating them.
This is the last straw and we must never again turn the udder cheek to these rustlers.