By Dennis Agbo
A group of Igbo Youth Vanguard for Peace and Harmonious living has asked the Southern Governors of Nigeria to consider the effect their ban on open grazing will have on herders who hitherto conducted their cattle rearing peacefully in their host communities.
The group said that the ban is capable of taking tolls on innocent herdsmen who were never part of the criminality that has in the present time become associated with cattle rearing business.
Speaking on the sideline of the recent uproar that trailed the statements of the Attorney General of Federation, AGF, and Minister for Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami on the Southern Governors ban on open grazing, the Igbo Youths said that it beholds on the Governors to provide an enabling environment that will make it easy for herders to ranch their cows.
In a statement, on Sunday, by the Chairman and Secretary of the group, Chief Ignatius Nwaobiora and Dr Mike Efobi, respectively, the Igbo Youth Vanguard for Peace and Harmonious living said that Malami’s comment on open grazing should not be misconstrued, but should serve as a wake-up call on Southern Governors to provide enabling environment for herders and other interested businessmen to invest in cow ranching.
“We think the AGF was misunderstood. The deduction from his comment on open grazing is clear. It is not enough for Southern Governors to ban open grazing, but they should also implement the policy in a manner that would achieve the goal and at the same time improve the economic activities of the headers and other businessmen who may wish to invest in cow ranching in that part of the country.
“Banning open grazing without a considered enabling environment for an average herder who is used to his primitive ways of cattle rearing would seem a policy which has to take away his means of livelihood. There are good herders who are not involved in criminality and also very reasonable not to deliberately allow his cows to destroy the farmers’ crops,” the group said.
They suggested that in line with the disposition of the AGF, the Southern Governors should organize a dialogue with farmers and herders and communities mostly at the border towns to encourage people, based on an established standard for ranching, to acquire lands and pay to the communities.
The group further recommended that ranches should be managed by someone with resources to check illegal movements of weapon.
“With this arrangement on the ground, once the cows come in, herders should be given a place to stay with their cows. Villagers can now be provided employment by engaging them to supply grasses to these herders to feed their cows at a minimal cost. Once this is done, the problem of clashes between herders and farmers would permanently end. This arrangement would also isolate the good herders from those carrying AK47 for kidnapping and other crimes.
“Comments and sincere opinions, like that of the AGF should not be politicized or given ethnic colourations so easily, especially at this phase of our nationhood,” the group said.