In a bid to find a permanent solution to farmers/herders clashes, the federal government is planning to set up cattle colonies across the country to assist Fulani herdsmen in rearing their cows.
Apart from having adequate water and pasture for grazing of cattle, a standard cattle colony also has shopping and supply centres for diary products, with abattoirs and meat warehouses for processing finished products.
Federal government’s decision to establish cattle colonies across the country was taken at a special security meeting with governors of five states considered as epicenters of the farmers/herders clashes and Security chiefs in Abuja yesterday.
At the meeting, the federal government blamed the wanton killings carried out by Fulani herdsmen across the federation, especially in the middle belt on the failure of government to invest and provide necessary facilities for cow rearing.
It regretted that it had not been fair to livestock farmers as it has been to other aspects of farming, saying “ this killings is due to negligence for over fifty years”.
Acknowledging that the killings and bloodletting of hardworking farmers, if not stopped, would threaten the peace, stability and unity of the country, it promised to measure up, having realised that the abandonment and absence of government support to herders and cow rearing was largely responsible for the incessant clashes and the resultant deaths.
Minister of Interior, General Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) and his Agriculture counterpart, Chief Audu Ogbe, disclosed federal government’s decision.
Ogheh said, “The federal government is planning a programme called cattle colonies, not ranches but colonists, where at least 5000 hectares of land would be made available, adequate water and adequate pasture would be made available.
“We also want to stop cattle from roaming the streets, farms and other areas as they will henceforth be provided with water and adequate security by the rangers, adequate pasture milk collection and even security against rustlers to enable them live normal life. This has been successfully done in India, Ethiopia and even Brazil.
“Over the years, government has not done much to look seriously into the issue of livestock development, though people often ask why government and not herdsmen should manage their own livestock. We are 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 farmer gets a subsidy of 6 Euros per day. We have done next to nothing for the cattle rearers and as a result its operation has become a threat to the existence of our farmers. That is what this communiqué will seek to resolve”.
On his part, convener of the meeting and minister of Interior said the meeting was to primarily share experiences among stakeholders and then agree on necessary measures to be taken against the menace.
According to Dambazau, “the current situation is very dangerous to Northern Nigeria in particular and the nation in general”.
The minister warned that 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 government 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 election is 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”.
Governors in attendance at the meeting were those of Niger, Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau States.
Others who attended the meeting include the Inspector General of Police, Commandant General of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Director General of the Department of State Security Services (DSS), among others.
Benue, Taraba Govs Reject Cattle Colonies
Meanwhile, after a closed-door meeting that lasted for about six hours, last night, the governors of Benue and Taraba states, Samuel Ortom and Ishaku Darius rejected the proposed establishment of cattle colonies, insisting that ranching remains the best option for livestock rearing in the country
They made their position known in a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting.
Save Us From Annihilation, Miyetti Allah Cries Out
Meanwhile, the youth wing of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has call on the federal government to come to their aid and save the Fulani ethnic race from annihilation.
At the end of its extra ordinary meeting in Kaduna yesterday, the association alleged that some farming communities have subjected their race to blackmail and intimidation across the country.
In a statement signed by the national youth leader, Modibo Abdulkareem Bayero, the association noted that thousands of Fulani youths who rear cattle as their occupational activities have been placed on a state of uncertainty in states such as Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Kaduna where their livestocks are allegedly ransacked by local farmers.
The MACBAN youth association also urged the federal government to declare a state of emergency in Benue State where the governor has allegedly recruited private security outfits to invade Nomads’ settlement and rustle their livestock.
The Association further called for the withdrawal of the open grazing prohibition law enforced by Benue and Taraba State governors.
It also called for the creation of livestock ministry to cater for special attention on abundant livestock products owned by the Fulani race in Nigeria as the utmost solution to the incessant conflicts in the country.
Benue Death Toll Rises To 71 As Ortom Declares 2-day Mourning
Meanwhile, the death toll from the recent killings in Guma and Logo local government areas of Benue state by the suspected Fulani herdsmen has risen to 71.
This is just as the state governor, Samuel Ortom, has declared a 2-day mourning period for those killed in the attacks, beginning from Tuesday to Wednesday this week.
A statement by the chief press secretary to the governor, Mr Terver Akase, noted that the mourning period, which will end with a church service for the victims at IBB Square in Makurdi, will be followed by a burial of the deceased.
According to him, flags will fly at half-mast within the mourning period, while work will close at 1:00pm on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thursday, which is the day for the church service and burial of the victims, is declared work-free day in the State.
Meanwhile, Benue state commissioner of Agriculture, James Anbua has disclosed that the killings and destruction of farm produce in Logo and Guma local government areas will have adverse effect on food security in the state and the country at large.
The commissioner, in a chat with journalists in Makurdi, condemned the Benue killings and called for the arrest of Garus Gololo who came out clearly and claimed the attacks.
“I am calling for the arrest and prosecution of the said Gololo who came out in the media to claim the attacks on Benue citizens, with a lie that our people rustled their 1000 cattle and even attacked them when they were leaving the state”, he said.
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