By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
SENATOR Christopher Ekpenyong representing Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District in Akwa Ibom State has recommended that the federal government should encourage security forces particularly the military to rescue the Sambisa forest in Borno State from insurgents and bandits and use it for ranching.
Ekpenyoong who spoke weekend, in Uyo while reacting to the worsening insecurity in the country occasioned by activities of arms bearing Herders in Southern Nigeria, expressed confidence in the approach to bring a lasting solution to the lingering crisis.
His words, “Worsening insecurity in Nigeria today as a result of insurgency, banditry and Herders-Farmers crisis has become a major cause for concern. Thousands of people have been killed, communities have been destroyed. The orgy of killings and destructions is seriously affecting national cohesion.
“For the Farmers/Herders crisis, a comprehensive approach is necessary to address the escalation. And I recommend that the federal government should take over sambisa forest from Boko Haram, bandits and create ranches in order to save our country the agony we are going through currently.
” The Sambisa grazing Reserve of 4800 hectares is an ideal and symbolic place to take-off by establishing a ranch run by the military. It will significantly improve the security situation in the northeast zone and encourage cooperation between pastoralists, communities and the military
“In the Northwest, the military should also be encouraged to create ranches in the Gidan Jaja Grazing Reserve (565,000 ha) for the same purpose of improving security and cooperation with Herdsmen. Cattle rearing is a business and must be done as a business, other than trying to seize land by force”
The former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State added that there was a need for the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria to liaise with State governors to acquire land on lease to set up ranching, noting that open grazing was no longer practised anywhere in the world.
He stressed that adopting the piecemeal approach in finding lasting solutions to security challenges bedevilling the country in recent times would not suffice.
“We can co-exist peacefully in this country because Nigeria is the only country we have for now. Nigeria belongs to all of us; it does not belong to only one tribe or ethnic group.
“Government policies must be mutually beneficial to all sections, both Herders and farmers. Any policy that does not take into consideration the welfare of all sides will most likely fail or meet resistance” Ekpenyong advised.