Friday, November 28, 2008

Tough Rugged Cowboys: Nigeria And America Compared

Tough Rugged Cowboys: Nigeria And America Compared


Paul I. Adujie

New York, United States Cowboys in Nigeria are probably the hardest working farmers on earth! Nigerian cowboys are the most unsung heroes of the Nigerian food chain! Many Nigerians have not driven from Maiduguri to Lagos, it a long tortuous and arduous journey, it is really a very Looonnnng trip, I have done it many times and I should know. It takes about two days! It is like traveling from New York to Florida by road, it is equally long and tortuous arduous trip! But never mind Maiduguri to Lagos or New York to Florida driving, NOW, imagine trekking it!

Nigerian Cowboys are the hardest working cowboys on earth! These Nigerians, in efforts to make a living, have for decades trekked from Maiduguri and Sokoto to Lagos Malu Road! Just so, that the urban dwellers in Lagos and other major metropolis in Nigeria can have their delicacies and nutrients, from steak to Suya and the other meals Nigerians turn cow and cattle meat into.

Too many Nigerians are quick to call our Cowboys cattle “rearers” while the Americans dignify theirs and call them cattle Ranchers and Cowboys! How much would anyone pay me to trek from Maiduguri or Sokoto to Lagos? Where will by family be while I embark on this biblical trek? Imagine a married Nigerian cowboy with a wife and children, being absent for several months at a time, to trek to and from Lagos, a round trip must take how many months? How would the family left at home cope? And how do these rugged cowboys cope? Many months away from home, while encountering the vagaries of the different Nigerian terrains, inclement weather, or sometimes a not so friendly communities that they may encounter from Maiduguri to Lagos? How do these tough guy keep up with their basic personal hygiene like shower/bath?

Most farmers in Nigeria endure very difficult circumstances and all manners of hardships, but the average Nigerian farmer returns from the farmers daily, and meet with other family members, to socialize and enjoy love and affection of the family and of course are able to take care of their basic daily personal hygiene, not so for the Nigeria cowboy! Away from family and friends for an extended period at a time, usually lasting several months per round trip! Nigerian cowboys have no insurance coverage for themselves or for their livestock, if they get sick or their livestock are destroyed? Its simply tough luck!

In America, the mention of a traditional cowboy conjures the image of a tough guy, rugged and gentleness mixed with gruff! But if the American think they have cowboys? Tough-Rugged cowboys? Let them go to Nigeria and travel with the world’s best cowboys from Maiduguri or Sokoto to Lagos! The Americans will learn a thing or two from real cowboys! The Nigerian Cowboys that is! American governments led by examples at its federal level, heavily, as in very heavily subsidize food production and agriculture, the American governments give very liberal loans and financial aid to companies and individual in food production and agriculture, Archer Daniels Midlands, Dole Foods and many others are heavily subsidized, so that their overhead cost or cost of producing food is not passed directly to the average consumer in America, hence, food is cheap and abundant in America, whereas, food is scarce in Nigeria and other African nations that are supposed to be for the most part agrarian!

Nigerian governments need to urgently create the conducive environment and added incentive for agriculture and food production in Nigeria, so that Nigeria has food security! Any nation that cannot feed the citizenry is surely mortgaging national interests, and its national security Most Nigerians, especially those in the urban and metropolitan areas, spend the bulk of their income on food, because food is not subsidized, and food production, even though should be considered a national security issue by all levels of governments and leadership in Nigeria, that has hardly been the case!

I am earnestly hoping that food as national security issue, is pursued forcefully and effectively, as has been identified and stated by the current government, and the added benefit of diversification of the economy, with particular emphasis on agriculture, will lead to a national focus on the gaping inadequacies that has existed in the agricultural sector and food production in Nigeria for decades! The current government must re-launch Operation Feed the Nation or OFN (OFN II) The current government must support all Nigerian individuals and companies with adequate incentives to actively encourage food production and effective participation by all.

American farmers have all manners of farm festivals and competitions! Such as who caught the biggest fish! Who harvest the biggest Pumpkins and who raised the biggest or weightiest Turkey bird! These activities are televised, and farmers and non-farmers look forward to the quintessential piece of Americana, and food production has it pride of place and everyone in America is well feed and happy (thanks to government policies and the dedications of the farmers!)

Raging currently is the debate, international debate in connection with genetically modified food, and agricultural subsidies, and it has pitted the Americans against the Europeans who have so far taken a very cautious approach to genetic engineering, with particular reference to food production and biotechnology; There are also the contentious issues of agricultural and food subsidies by the Americans and Europeans which is in perpetual conflict with their half hearted espousal of free trade! American cowboys like other American farmers benefit from government subsidies and largesse, American farmers and French farmers are very powerful lobby groups! They turn the free trade pretensions of the western world and western governments on its head! As food production and agriculture is heavily subsidized! These governments do not want angry citizens! So they feed the citizens! Ala a hungry person is an angry person?

American cowboys are not as hardworking as Nigerian cowboys! American cowboys do not have to trek the 1, 800 Kilo Meter per trip! A recent article in The New York Times portrayed American Cowboys heaviest burden as Cowboys, is combing cows for fleas and teaks! While their Nigerian counterparts count themselves lucky, when and if they can afford trailers and trucks to transport themselves and the cow and cattle consignments for more than a thousand miles! Traveling with the cows and cattle in not much better a condition than the herds! Do you want to meet a real Cowboy? A real Tough and Rugged Cowboy? Go to Nigeria and head North! And the next time that you crave for Suya or other meat and meat products in Nigeria, before you devour, that cow and cattle products? Thank the Nigerian Cowboys and say a prayer for them, for their tremendous efforts that they put into your piece of meat!

A thank you and a prayer for the unsung heroes of our protein and nutrient production… Those Tough and Rugged Nigerian Cowboys! God Bless Them!

Paul I. Adujie is a Nigerian Lawyer and an Information Technology Professional.

July 2003

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