MALAM Nuhu Sanusi is a 33-year-old Fulani herdsman who supplies cows, goats and sheep to some abattoirs in Rivers State.
Sanusi claims that in 2014, herdsmen lost more than 8,000 cows to insurgents who have been ravaging the northeastern part of the country.
“Fellow Fulani herdsmen who were bringing cows, goats and sheep from Niger, Chad and Cameroon were intercepted by gunmen, who carted away some of their livestock.
“By our estimation, more than 8,000 cows and an uncountable number of goats and sheep were forcibly removed from our members by armed gunmen, suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents.
“We were warned to comply or get hurt, so we had no other option than to part with our livestock,’’ he says.
Alhaji Semiu Ajulo, the Chairman of the Butchers Association in Egbelu, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, also comments on the development.
His words: “We get our supplies from Sanusi and other suppliers from the North and prior to the insurgency, we slaughtered an average of 30 cows at our abattoir every day.
“But today, we manage to kill about 8 or 9, cows, depending on the supplies we get from the North.’’
Besides, Ajulo expresses concern that the cost of transporting cattle from the northern part of the country has risen astronomically.
“Before the insurgency, we spent about N150,000 to bring 30 cows from the North but we now spend roughly N600,000 to transport the same number of cows to Rivers State,’’ he says.
Sharing similar sentiments, Alhaji Kabiru Bello, a member of Trans-Amadi Slaughter Association in Port Harcourt, cattle supplies have gone down considerably in recent times.
“I must confess that it has not been easy for us since the insurgency began; some of our suppliers cannot meet our daily requirements.
“For now, a big cow in Port Harcourt costs about N200,000, unlike the situation in the past when a cow of the same size sold for between N120,000 and N130,000.
“Customers who have festive occasions now settle for cows with the N150,000 price tag apiece; cows of smaller sizes,’’ he says.
The development has somewhat affected the feeding costs of many households. For instance, Mrs Abiye Kuro, a housewife and a mother of four children, insists that the cost of beef has doubled in recent times.
“I used to spend N2,000 to buy beef for our soup and stew. For now, if I must cook stew and soup, I spend N4,000 to buy enough beef,’’ she says.
“Also, I need to spend another N1,000 to buy fish to complement the beef,’’ she adds.
Mr Musi Olalekan, a member of Egbelu Butchers Association, concedes that customers have been finding it difficult to buy beef because of the increase in its price.
“Hoteliers and housewives are not happy with the situation of things. Hoteliers, who always buy beef, appear to be worst hit.
“They often complain that the quantity of beef is not enough to meet their customers’ needs but we try our best to satisfy them, so that they can come back another day,’’ he says.
Malam Nasir Buba, who sells “Suya’’, a spicy shish kebab, says that the inadequate supply of cows has consequently affected meat sales at the abattoir.
“I visit the slaughterhouse every day to buy meat and I can confirm that the cost of beef has risen dramatically, when compared to its price when there were normal supplies from the North.
“The situation is no longer the same these days. We, however, hope that things will get better one day,’’ Buba adds.
Ajulo says that members of his association have been fervently praying for an end to the insurgency in the North to enable their business to bounce back.
“It is our hope that things will soon get better. Presently, we cannot meet the needs of our customers; we sell beef to those customers who come early to the abattoir and then prepare for the next day’s work,’’ he says.
Echoing a similar viewpoint, Sanusi believes that things will soon normalise to enable herdsmen continue their business without any problems.
“I believe by God’s grace that normalcy will soon be restored to enable our members to bring in more cows, goats and sheep into the country,’’ he says.
Corroborating such views, analysts maintain that whenever normalcy is restored in the northeastern part of the country, the booming livestock business, particularly supplies to Rivers State and other southern states, will resume.

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