…Open grazing no longer sustainable – Northern governors
…To sensitise herders on modern methods of cattle rearing
…Open grazing, an ill-wind that may hurt Nigeria – Ohanaeze
…Obaseki faults open grazing, promises to provide grazing areas for herders
By Anayo Okoli, Marie-Therese Nanlong & Ozioruva Aliu
Governors of the 19 northern states of the federation have said the current system of open grazing of cattle in the country was no longer sustainable.
The position of the governors, acting under the aegis of Northern Governors Forum, came Monday. night against the backdrop of incessant clashes between farmers and herders across the country.
Consequently, they called for intensive sensitization of herdsmen to adopt new methods in carrying out their trade.
The northern governors’ position was also amplified by Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, who noted that the only way to stop frequent clashes between farmers and herders was to halt open grazing, promising to provide grazing areas for herders to stop nomadic herding.
Similarly, Igbo socio-political organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, described open grazing as an ill-wind that will do Nigeria no good.
Open grazing no longer sustainable — Norther govs
Rising from a virtual meeting in Jos, the northern governors harped on the need to adapt new methods of herding by ranching or other acceptable modern methods, even as they appealed to the Federal Government to support states with grants to directly undertake pilot projects of modern livestock production that will serve as springboard and evidence for breaking resistance to the full implementation of new methods of livestock production.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, signed by the chairman and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, the governors said the clashes between both parties were already affecting the fragile security situation in the country. The communiqué signed by the governor’s Director of Press and Public Affairs, Makut Macham, read: “The Forum noted with concern the growing wave of insecurity in the country, particularly as it relates to circulation of unverified video clips on social media portraying violent attacks on persons in some parts of the country.
“Therefore, the Forum called on political leaders to segregate between criminality and social groups in their domains, with a view to treating criminals as criminals. The Forum reiterates that it condemns every form of criminality whether from herders, hunters, or farmers occupying forest reserves illegally.
“It noted with concern the tension generated by the eviction order issued to herdsmen in some parts of the country, expressing concern that this is heating the already fragile security atmosphere with threats of reprisals which the Northern governors are working assiduously to contain.
“The forum stressed the urgent need for the Nigerian Governors Forum to meet and discuss the issue holistically, with a view to resolving all areas of misunderstanding and conflicts arising from these threats and suspicion for the sake of national unity.
“The Forum notes with concern that the current system of herding conducted mainly through open grazing is no longer sustainable, in view of growing urbanization and population of the country.
Consequently, the Forum resolved to aggressively sensitize herdsmen on the need to adapt new methods of herding by ranching or other acceptable modern methods.
“It appealed to the Federal Government to support states with grants to directly undertake pilot projects of modern livestock production that will serve as springboard and evidence for breaking resistance to the full implementation of new methods of livestock production.
‘’It also resolved to engage elders and youths in a robust discussion to douse the tensed security environment in the north and called on all the citizens of the north to continue to live in peace with all Nigerians, irrespective of their origins and backgrounds.”
Obaseki faults open grazing, promises to provide grazing areas for herders
In a similar development, Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, yesterday condemned the attempts to politicise the security situation in the country. He said his administration was working to isolate and deal with the issues as they emerge so as to provide lasting security to communities across the state.
Besides, he said his administration would create grazing areas to avoid clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
Obaseki, who stated this when he led heads of security agencies in the state on a fact-finding visit to Udo, Ovia South West Local Government Area of the state, said resolving the security challenges was a collective one and urged the Fulani communities in the state to cooperate with their host communities and government agencies to check insecurity. At the Palace of the Iyase of Udo, His Royal Highness (HRH) Patrick Igbinidu, Obaseki said: “We are on a fact-finding tour around some parts of the state today to assess the security situation, particularly as it relates to farmers and herders’ conflicts in the state.
“We do not accept the situation where anybody will be herding cattle with AK-47 rifles and other dangerous weapons. We also understand that there are bandits and criminals who pretend to be herders but undertake criminal activities such as kidnapping in the name and guise of being herdsmen. “I have always argued that we should separate these people and deal with each one accordingly. Today, we are here to undertake assessments ourselves and to assure the people of Ovia South West of adequate security. “The state government is providing adequate security to protect the lives and property of the people. The security structure of the state has been rejigged and revamped.”
At a town hall meeting, Obaseki assured the people that his administration would protect residents in the state as he is governor for all.
Speaking further, the governor said: “The Fulani community should collaborate with the government and security agencies to fish out criminals. We will create an area where the cattle will go regularly to graze, as they must not go to peoples’ farms. This will stop cattle from moving round the community, including farmlands. “We have major security challenges in the country as well as the whole of the Sahara region. I think leadership in this country should be responsible and ensure that we focus on the specific crisis, some of which are not anybody’s doing.”
Earlier, the Iyase of Udo, HRH Patrick Igbinidu, said the security challenges in his community had been on for a very long time.
“Farmers always complain about the activities of the herdsmen. When I received such reports, I call both parties to resolve the issues immediately. We have been on it for a very long time,’’ he said.
The State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Philip Agbadu, in his remarks, assured of the readiness of his men to ensure peace in troubled areas of the state. “I urge Fulani leaders to ensure that children are not allowed to follow the cattle for grazing as they may not be able to control them,’’ he said.
In his remarks, leader of Fulani community in the area, Alhaji Muhammad Buhari, expressed appreciation to the governor for the fact-finding mission to the area, adding that Fulanis in the area were peace-loving people and had lived in the community for years and that his people will always support peace.
Open grazing, an ill wind that may hurt Nigeria — Ohanaeze
Meanwhile, Igbo socio-political organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has described open grazing as an ill-wind that will do Nigeria no good.
The group also described Prof. Wole Soyinka’s advice to President Muhammadu Buhari to address the herders’ crisis to stave off another civil war in the country as apt.
Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Alex Ogbonna, said in a statement on Monday night, that herders’ open grazing of their cattle would continue to set them against host communities and engender constant frictions which might lead to inter-ethnic conflicts and war. “It has become clear that open grazing is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. The northern elders are expected to demonstrate concern for the unity of this country by calling on the leadership of the Miyetti Allah to toe the path of peace and stop open grazing.
“If the herdsmen are allowed to continue their rapacious violation of host communities’ rights and ethos, the incessant clash with the host communities will continue; and if care is not taken, it will lead to inter-ethnic conflicts and war,’’ the group stated.
On Soyinka’s advise to President Buhari on herders’ crisis, Ohanaeze said it was timely, since it would help prevent the country from drifting into another civil war. It said: “The caution by Prof Wole Soyinka is very timely. Prof. Soyinka is a patriot, an ally in truth and search for social justice.
“In fact, any body that advises the relevant authorities to rein in the herdsmen loves Nigeria. It is a straight line graph with a predictable outcome. Soyinka is of the opinion that President Muhammadu Buhari holds the key to some of these problems and Nigerians are eager to see his quick interventions.’’