THE SEARCH FOR GREEN LAND - Issues with Shola Ola

The struggle for economic survival by both herdsmen and farmers in various parts of the country, which unfortunately continue to lead to senseless bloodletting, has consistently made headlines. More recently, we have witnessed unforgivable loss of lives in Benue state via activities of these herdsmen. One only hopes that our security agencies would live up to their responsibilities by bringing the perpetrators to book, and take necessary steps to prevent future occurrence.

The herdsmen mostly referred to as Fulani, not minding whether they are from our next door Niger Republic or Chad, move from place to place in search of where the grass is greener (even when unfortunately some of them might be working for influential cattle business men in Nigeria: their quest is to succeed in what they do, it is just rather bad that they care less for human lives compared with the lives of their stock). The low rainfall, coupled with continuous desertification of most parts of far north perhaps, necessitated the need to move to north-central and then southern parts of the country where the grass is greener due to higher rainfall. As these herdsmen move from place to place with their cattle in search for food and water, either deliberately or not, they sometimes encroach on people’s farm which usually results into violent faceoff with farmers, and eventually the disaster we currently have in our hands. 

The herdsmen search for green grass is not different from the quest of many young Nigerians in search of green pastures in other countries. In a similar pattern, many youths see their fatherland as desert that those at the helms of affairs lack the wisdom to turn green. Thus, like the nomadic herdsmen, they migrate from place to place in search for greener pasture. The search begins from a simple migration of rural dwellers who are dissatisfied with life in the village, to major towns where they think better economic opportunities are available. When these towns fail to meet their expectations, they naturally gravitate to big cities like Port-Harcourt, Abuja, Lagos or Kano where healthier economic opportunities abound. In the event these big cities also fail them, they are tempted to move outside the shores of their fatherland in search of greener pastures. This, no doubt, led many of our youths to places like Libya where we have been told of a “disgusting” slave market. The testimony of many of the returnees in the hands of their ‘bugger’ (slave masters) leaves much to be desired. Most of them went through the tortuous experience of traveling through the hot desert of the Sahara alongside other African migrants mostly from the West-African region, where many died of hunger and dehydration. Even the reports of overloaded boats conveying African migrants capsizing on the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to cross to Europe were not enough to change the hearts of these youths. According to United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 10,000 African migrants have died since 2014 while attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

The revelation of many Libya returnees further attests to leadership failure in this part of the globe. These young men and women cannot be said to be lazy, because they knew that dollars are not picked on the streets of America nor pound sterling on the streets of London. They only lack the necessary platform to exhibit their talents. Many of our youths who made it to where the grasses are greener have proved to us that given the right environment, combined with hard work, everyone’s dream can come true.

The young Nigerians are not the only ones looking for greener pastures, even the best of the best among our professionals are relocating to where the grasses are greener. I wonder what will become of us, if we allow our best hands to relocate because of frustrating work environment and conditions. Today, Nigerian trained professionals in the field of medicine, engineering, and other areas have proved that they have what it takes to stand side by side with their counterparts in the advanced countries, if given the right environment and tools to function. It is up to our leaders to arrest the brain drain…

Our leaders must justify their leadership by ensuring that the system in this part of the world, functions like those of Europe. If the leaders on the other side, where our youths and professionals are constantly running to, can guarantee their citizens 24 hours electricity, nothing should hinder our leaders from doing the same. If the rail can work on the other side, it can also work here. Most importantly, if those on the other side can guarantee basic needs of life which are food, clothing, and shelter, to their populace, we equally have what it takes to ensure same. Until the grasses here are as green as those on the other side, the search for greener pastures by Africans would continue.   


Shola Olayiwola is a freelance writer. He loves to write and defend the course of his country.