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AGRICULTURE

Herdsmen killings: Reps Endorse Ranches, Reject Cattle Colonies

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…to visit select affected areas 
Disturbed by clashes between herdsmen and farmers that has resulted in deaths of Nigerians, the House of Representatives yesterday, called on the federal government to educate and encourage herdsmen on the benefits of ranching instead of the proposed cattle colonies.
The House also urged the federal government to work out modalities for the establishment of cattle breeding settlements as a lasting solution to the clashes.
These followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Mohammed Ogoshi Onawo who expressed deep concerns over the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers that have presented serious security challenges in Nigeria
Onawo opined that most of the clashes stem from the practice of herdsmen roaming in the wild across the length  and breadth of the country in search of grazing pastures for their cattle and as a result, trespassing into, and damaging crops in farms.
“Also aware that the grazing practice of the herdsmen is not only exposing them to danger as they fall prey to cattle rustlers and kidnappers, but also results in conflicts with farmers whose crops are trampled upon by the cattle.
“Equally, notes the Federal Government’s proposal to establish cattle colonies in every State in Nigeria to cater for the herdsmen and their cattle as a lasting solution to the continuous clashes which, in most cases, result in senseless and avoidable loss of lives and properties”.
He noted that the decision to establish cattle colonies in each State could be in violation of  Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Land Use Act as those colonies will remain the exclusive reserve of the individual State governments and as such, would not guarantee total freedom to the herdsmen.
He said, “cattle rearing is not an exclusive reserve of the Fulanis as other tribes also engage in the business”, but in order to provide a lasting solution to the incessant conflicts between herdsmen and farm owners, modern breeding practices should be encouraged.
According to him, “ranching will offer longer lasting solution to the recurring conflicts between herdsmen and farmers, if the herdsmen would be fully sensitized and educated about the benefits of the program, as it would enable them assume full ownership of those ranches”
Similarly, Hon. Ezekiel Adaji posited that cattle rearing is a private business as such those engage in it should adopt best international practices so as not to encroach on the properties and rights of others. He said ranching was the best option to ending incessant killings occasioned by clashes between herders and farmers.
 Hon. Peter Akpatason argued that as a private business, herders should account for their expenses instead of compelling the government to foot their bills.
On his part, Hon. Femi Fakeye who bemoaned submissions of those opposed to ranching, said if the cow feeds were expensive herdsmen should improvise cheaper form of feeding in order to ranch their cattle.
 Hon. Joan Mrakpor while lamenting the killings, maintained that until lawmakers “realize that this culture/business of cattle rearing will destroy divide this country, well will stop whipping sentiments, face facts and proffer solutions to this problem.
“I say this because any culture that is a danger to the lives of other people isn’t a culture we should promote”.
However, Hon. Nasiru Ahmad and Hon. Aisha Dukku countered earlier arguments saying it is impossible for herdsmen to ranch because of the high cost of cow feed.
Dukku noted that because cattle rearing was part of the Fulani Man’s culture, there was need for them to be educated. In adopting the motion, the House also urged the federal ministry of Agriculture and natural resources to liase with state ministries of agriculture to educate and encourage herdsmen on the benefits of ranching.
Relatedly, the House ad hoc committee on incessant killings and other security concerns has hinted that it will commence it’s work by conducting a public hearing on the matter to listen to stakeholders and proffer solutions.
Chairman of the committee and Minority Whip of the House, Pally Iriase, disclosed this yesterday at a briefing where he also informed that the committee would also visit selected areas where people have been severally attacked to interact with victims, survivors and critical stakeholders.
Leadership recalls that following the killing of 73 persons in Benue state on January 2, by suspected Fulani herdsmen, the House constituted the 7-man committee to investigate the and find out the root causes of the killings across the country.
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