By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA – The Federal Government, said, Wednesday that it is focusing on establishment of cattle ranching as solution to the protracted clashes between the herdsmen and farmers, which resulted in killings of several people and wanton destruction of properties by suspected herders across the country, especially, Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Adamawa States.
Minister of Interior, LT. Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazau, Retd, who made this known in Abuja, at the stakeholders’ dialogue on the eradication of herders-farmers conflict in Nigeria, said another measure put in place by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Interior is the establishment of Agro Rangers.
Danbazau, while speaking further at the dialogue organised by the Alumni Association of the National Institute, ANNI in collaboration with Presidential Committee on Small and light weapons, PRESCOM, regretted the incessant loss of lives, properties and environmental degradation occasioned the conflict.
Represented by the Deputy Commandant General of NSCDC, Dr. Mohammed Jega, the minister said, “In order to address the menace, the Federal Government has not relented its efforts in overcoming the insecurity challenges by proposing to establish cattle ranches “
According to the minister, “It has further been established that climate change, scarce resources, trans-boarder migration cause pastoralists mainly from other African countries to move through the North to other parts of Nigeria in search of grazing land for their livestock and this constitute the security challenge wa are facing today.
“Their movement has brought about clashes which is invariably affecting the level of food shortage thereby causing food insecirty and this further threatens the stability of our nation. Security is an integral part of livelihood and well being of he citizenry and we must ensure that these challenges are surmountable.
“The competition for scarce resources has often resulted into a more frequent and destructive conflict than ever. The decade of the 1990s has witnessed the highest number of armed conflicts most of which are consequences os struggle for natural resources.
“Herdsmen by nature are nomads who move from one place to another to rear their animals for economic and social survival particularly seeking a place to cater for his animals. Similarly, the social standing of an herdsman depends on the number of cattle poosessed, just the status of a man in the society rests on the number of properties on which his social class can be adjudged.
“Thus, the herdsman guards his cattle jealously. The incessant resource conflicts witnessed in that nation have resulted in loss of lives, properties and environmental degradation on the strength of this, communal conflicts over land resources are usually fierce with massive destruction of lives and properties as witnessed in states like Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Adamawa and Plateau, etc.”
Danbazau noted that, “In order to address the menace, the Federal Government has not relented its efforts in overcoming the insecurity challenges by proposing to establish cattle ranches. In 1966, the northern regional government of Nigeria initiated one of the first measures to respond to the crisis of herders/farmers by establishing cattle ranches but was abandoned by the previous governments.
“Another measure put in place by the Federal Goverrnment through the Ministry of Interior is the establishment of Agro Rangers. This responsibility is placed on the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, who are to secure and provide physical security in all the proposd cattle ranches centres nationwide.
“Also, the establishment of joint operation of the military, police and NSCDC is to put an end to the menace and protect Agro-Allied investment by both local and foreign investors.”
In his remarks, the Chairman of Presidential Committee on Small and light weapons, PRESCOM, Ambassador Emmanuel Imohe said, in view of what is happening today, Nigerians must sit together and talk to themselves with open minds in order to address the insecurity threats confronting the nation.
According to him, “It is as a result of the foregoing as well the further impact or threat of same that we, as Nigerians must sit together and talk to ourselves with open minds with a view to critically and constructively diagnosing this raging security threat in order to proffer enduring solution for the consideration of our government.”
Imohe also blamed the porous nature of Nigerian boarder with other west African countries for influx of illegal alliance and smuggling of deadly weapons into the country.