By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
President Muhammadu Buhari Friday met behind closed-door with the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association on Nigeria, MACBAN at the presidential villa.
This is as the group has said that since the emergence of President Buhari, their members have seen light at the end of the tunnel and restated their resolve to support his re-election for a second term.
Speaking in an interview with State House correspondents after meeting with the President, Secretary of the group, Alhaji Mohammed Kiruwa, claimed that since the former Vice President and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar picked the ticket of the party, clashes between farmers and herders had stopped.
He said that their resolution to support President Buhari in the forthcoming elections was because of the President’s commitment to the promotion of livestock development in the country and the welfare of its members.
He said, “We have come to present to Mr. President the decision of the last Congress that we had on 27th of December 2018 where we endorsed Mr. President to the next level. We come to present to him a plaque and a certificate symbolizing the support of over 20 million of our members across the country.”
He said although the candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Abubakar was also a Fulani man from the north, he failed as Vice President to secure the interest of pastoralists in the country.
According to him, “They are both Fulanies. Atiku had two terms as Vice President in this country. Under his tenure we did not see anything that was put in place to change the position of pastoralists in Nigeria. Throughout those periods of the past administrations, the subsector suffered the worst neglect ever.
“The grazing reserves were allowed to be taken over by farmers. The infrastructure in the sector were allowed to dilapidate, the reserve were not maintained. It is now that we have begun to see light at the end of the tunnel.
“We know what Buhari did when he was in the PTF, he has a lot of passion for the development of this sub-sector. We also see the desire of what he wants to do to revive the livestock sub-sector in the country.”
MACBAN told President Buhari that the 20-million member association have sent the delegation to endorse his bid for a second term of office on account of the administration’s achievements in office which included, the successful clampdown on kidnapping and cattle rustling; and the fight against terrorism and corrupt elements in the society.
The leader of MACBAN said President Buhari’s personal qualities of honesty, integrity and his unparalleled commitment to the unity and progress of the nation, also informed his association’s support for a renewal of his tenure.
In his remarks, President Buhari appealed for accommodation and tolerance among cattle herders and farmers throughout the country.
The President said that his government will give equal respect to all citizens irrespective of their ethnic, religious and geopolitical backgrounds.
According to President Buhari, “I appeal to all farmers and herders for restraint, mutual respect and tolerance for one another as people destined to live together in this great country. I appeal for patience and understanding as the administration works towards lasting solutions to these conflicts.”
He also urged the herders to support him in the task of bringing lasting peace to the country.
The President called on state governors to work with the Minister of Agriculture, who he said, had been mandated to work out a solution with the states by which herders will have access to water for their livestock, and farmers will have security against destruction of their farmlands.
President Buhari attributed part of the conflict between the two groups to the climate change phenomenon and population explosion, but regretted that its politicization by selfish individuals who did not mean well for the country did not also help matters.
He said the conflict was neither religious nor ethnic, but one that his administration has foreseen and warned about.
According to the President, “Before the Benue and Taraba crises, I called the Minister of Agriculture and the Governor of Central Bank and asked them to work with the state governors on rediscovering the gazetted cattle routes, clear of farmlands that had made for peace during the First Republic.”
President Buhari expressed strong confidence that a way around the problem will be found, working with the states which have an important role to play in finding a lasting solution.
“Whatever it will take, I am determined to bring peace between farmers and herders. I urge you all to be patient and exercise restraint while we are working for an enduring solution,” he stressed.