Despite the amplified negative reviews about Nigeria and Nigerians in the international media, the tons of domestic problems plaguing the country, and a large percentage of the population living below the poverty level, Nigerians remain one of the happiest people in the world. In 2017, Nigerians were ranked as the 95th happiest people in the world and the 6th happiest people in Africa according to the World's Happiness Report. source The country ranked higher in 2018 and 2019, before dropping off significantly this year. Whatever the case may be, one would ordinarily expect Nigerians to be at the bottom of the happiness ranking in lieu of the country's numerous problems. The reason is not far-fetched - Nigerians love partying, especially those parties where cow meats are involved.
Nigerians can throw parties for the slightest of reasons. This year alone, despite the lockdown and social restrictions that came with the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had reasons to attend numerous parties ranging from weddings, birthdays, naming, to burial ceremonies. The last party I attended was a burial ceremony where, at least, 6 cows were slaughtered in celebration. It is quite unfortunate that many Nigerians do not see a connection between the level of insecurity in the country and their demand for cow meat, especially issues of the Fulani herdsmen. Since the return to the democratic ruling in 1999, nothing less than 19,000 lives have been lost to different clashes relating to the insurgency of the Fulani herders and another hundred of thousands displaced.source According to a more specific and recent report, over 650 attacks culminating to the loss of 2539 lives and 253 kidnappings have been carried out by Fulani herders between 2017 and May 2020.source
Climate Change and Insurgency
A steady increase in the global annual average temperatures over the years has brought a level of unpredictability to the climates of the world. As the world's population continues to increase, the rate of emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere keeps on increasing in a rather unequally greater proportion; thanks to technology and continuous search for improvement in the lifestyles of humans. Of course, we all know that without the greenhouse gases, the planet would not have left the ice age. The gases trap some of the radiations of the sun that hit and are reflected back by the earth and prevent them from escaping back to the stratosphere.
The problem started when more and more of these greenhouse gases were being emitted into the atmosphere. The more their concentrations, the more the radiation they trap and the more the global average annual temperature increases. The increase in temperature has many profound effects on the earth's ecosystem, including a reduction in glacier level, melting of polar ice caps, rise in sea level, desertification of lands, and the drying-up of lakes and water bodies.
One of the prominent effects of this climate change is the reduction in the water level of the Lake Chad Basin. The Basin which borders the Northeastern region of Nigeria and Chad use to be one of Africa's largest freshwater bodies and supports livelihood for more than 30 million people. As of today, the water level in the Lake Chad Basin has gone down to as low as 10% of its original volume. This means that the source of livelihood of over 30 million people has been disrupted.source
The drying up of the lake was one of the reasons that drove Fulani herders whose livelihood revolves around cattle rearing further inland into Nigeria. The lake that use to support farming, water, and grazing lands for their animals can no longer sustain them. They moved inland into farms and villages, leaving only distractions in their paths. The more climate change bites, the further the herders travel down South in search of sustenance for themselves and their herds. The destruction of farms by the Fulanis and their herds has led to several clashes between farmers and herders and the rest, as they say, is now stories.
The normal economic model agrees that as the demand for a product increases, the manufacturer of that product will seek to increase its supply in order to maximize profit. This is applicable to the current situation of the country as the government seeks to end the menace of the Fulani herders. As parties keep emanating from the nooks and crannies of the country in addition to an increase in the population, the demand for cow meat keeps increasing. This, in some ways, continuously puts pressure on the Fulani herders, the manufacturer, in this case, to meet the demand and rake-in more profits.
The pressure to meet demand encourages herders to incur further into the heart of the country, employing all available means along the way; including killing, destruction of properties, and kidnappings. I happen to live in the Southwestern part of the country and the menace constituted by cattle herds from Fulani herders is not in anyway small. All over the streets, cow dungs litter; farmers cannot plant in peace but to wake up to the destruction of their farms by cattle and any attempt to confront the perpetrators often end up in violent conflicts.
It is quite obvious that the demand for cow meat is one of the reasons the business of cattle herding is flourishing. While I might not be able to say for other countries plaqued by insurgency, I strongly believe that cutting down on meat consumption will make the business less profitable and reduce the aggresiveness of the Fulani herders. But the big question is, would Nigerians listen?
In addition to the above, there is an urgent need to mitigate the effects created by climate change. On one hand, humans should cut down on activities that leads to emission of greenhouse gases and on the other hand, efforts should be made to reverse the negative trends created by climate change.
A stitch in time, definitely, saves nine.
Thank you all for reading.