As an urgent measure to stem the incessant killings and growing anger sparked by the killings in Benue and other states in the country, the Federal Government yesterday placed a blanket ban on open grazing nationwide. All herdsmen must henceforth ranch their cattle.
This decision was disclosed on Tuesday at the end of a six-hour meeting of a Federal Government delegation, security agencies and five governors.
Presenting the communique after the meeting, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortorm, accompanied by his Taraba State counterpart, Darius Ishaku, said: “The meeting noted that all animal farmers must ranch their cattle and livestock for better productivity.
“It also observed the existing synergy between the security agencies and between the states and the Federal Government.”
The communique was agreed upon after a meeting of a Federal Government delegation, top security chiefs and five governors, some of whose states are mostly affected by the herders/farmers clashes met.
Also speaking, the Minister of Interior, Lt-Gen. AbdulRahman Dambazau (rtd), said the meeting was to primarily share experiences among the stakeholders and agree on measures to tackle the menace.
“The current situation is very dangerous to Northern Nigeria in particular and the nation in general,” he said.
Dambazau said threats to peace and public safety in any form at any location in the country will not be tolerated.
He said: ”It is the responsibility of governments at all levels to provide, unconditionally, sustainable peace and public safety within their territorial boundaries.
“Against this background, the meeting is convened to primarily bring us together to share our experiences on the aforementioned security challenges.”
“The meeting will then agree on necessary measures to be taken and apportion responsibilities.
”The immediate repercussion of this menace includes hunger due to acute shortage of food, diseases, criminal activities and deepening animosity between ethnic and religious groups.
“Knowing that general elections are fast approaching and considering the history of political and election violence in Nigeria, all necessary steps must be taken to ensure that the recently witnessed crimes and violent conflicts are curtailed with utmost dispatch,” he added.
In the same vein, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Audu Ogbeh, said the inability of government to pay attention to herdsmen and cattle farming, unlike other developed countries, contributed to the killings.
The government, however, expressed concern that the trend of clashes between herdsmen and famers is dangerous for the development of the country.
Ogbeh said: “Over the years, we have not done much to look seriously into the issue of livestock development in the country. People ask the question; why should government get involved, why shouldn’t the herdsmen manage their own livestock?
“I am sad to tell you that in the last 50 years, until recently, we may have done enough for the rice farmer, the cassava farmer, the maize farmer, the cocoa farmer, but we haven’t done much for herdsmen and that inability and omission on our part is resulting in the crises we are witnessing today.
”In Europe, every cow that is farmed gets a subsidy of six Euros per day, we have done next to nothing for the cattle rearer and, as a result, his operation has become a threat to the existence of our farmers. That is what this communiqué will seek to resolve.”
The minister added that the Federal Government was “planning a programme called cattle colonists, not ranches but colonists where at least 5000 hectares of land would be made available, adequate water, adequate pasture would be made available.
”We also want to stop cattle rearers from roaming about. The culture of cattle roaming about will be stopped.
The cattle will be provided with water and adequate security by the rangers, adequate pasture milk collection even security for rustlers to enable them live a normal life.