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OPINION

In Defence Of Cattle Ranching In Nasarawa State

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Skirmishes between farmers and herders in Nigeria, particularly in the North Central states are not new phenomena; the conflicts are as old as the Nigerian nation. They have been with us since time immemorial.
Indeed, these conflicts are not a creation of anyone. The conflicts are the creation of nature. Nature made it possible for a human race to farm so as to feed. Same nature also made it imperative for cattle to graze. Of note is the fact that both the farmers and the herders serve one and same purposes in our life, both are of equal importance to our existence. It was in recognition of their significance and to avoid conflicts that the colonial masters designated grazing routes for ease of both farmers and herders.
Late Brigadier- General John Shagaya in an interview published shortly before his demise identified convincingly, factors behind farmers/herders conflicts in Nigeria.
In the said interview the late Brigadier – General John Shagaya gave an insight into factors responsible for recent farmers/herders clashes as he identified desert encroachment, drying of Lake Chad as well as blocking of source of water by the Cameroonian authorities as some of the factors responsible for migration of more numbers of herders down through Benue and Niger trough for feeding.

Other factors according to the late General include among other things: the collapse of Muammar Gaddafi’s government in Libya which made it possible for dangerous weapons to fall into the hands of soldiers of fortune comprising of Chadians, Niger nationals and Nigerians who now moved to North East as well as politicization of the issues by ethnic groups. As a solution, The late Shagaya advocated for ranching and admonished thus: “We must start seeing certain national problems as problems of the country and not a problem of one religion or a problem of Buhari because he is a Fulani man and a Fulani man entered a farm, we have to outgrow that”
He was right and as I observed elsewhere here, it was nature that brought these problems of farmers/herders in Nigeria but politicization of the issues compounded the matter particularly now that we have a Fulani man as president of the country.
As noted by many political commentators’ farmers/herders clashes claimed many lives during last PDP administration but since Jonathan is not a Fulani man, the issue did not generated intense bashing for his administration.
Our media today have become so obsessed about Fulani herdsmen that anything that has to do with them attracts screaming headlines just to give Buhari’s administration bad aura. Now since those assigned to give Buhari administration bad aura don’t want the killings to stop, they are now waging another campaign to stop the proposed cattle ranching in the country which many perceive as the only solution to this endless farmers/herders clash.
A campaign has already started to stop cattle ranches in Nigeria. There is now a campaign in the media to the effect that the proposed cattle ranches is a ploy by the federal government to create havens for Fulani herdsmen and they are even warning the federal government not to use state resources for building of these ranches. What all these mean is that these people are not interested in solutions to these problems of farmers/herders in Nigeria; what they were interested in is continuations of the killings. To them continuation of the killings of their fellow human beings is okay because the killings are serving their political interest.
The decision therefore by the Nasarawa State government to support the federal government proposed cattle ranching in the state is not only a welcome development but it is something that the people of the state must support with an open mind.
This support by the Nasarawa State government for cattle ranching was contained in a press statement issued last week and signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Mohammed Hassan Abdullahi.
The statement which described the decision of the federal government on modern ranching as laudable further expressed the willingness of the Nasarawa State government to key into the programme and approved that the seven gazetted grazing reserves located at Awe, Keana, Doma, Assakio, Konva, Gitata and Kurudu be utilized for purposes of ranching programme in the state.
The action of the Nasarawa State government in supporting cattle ranching demonstrates its desire to end farmers/herders clashes in the state since cattle ranching was identified as the only proactive step towards lasting solution to the age-old challenge of farmers/herders conflict.
We have experienced enough of these farmers/herders conflicts in Nasarawa State. Many lives have been lost and billions worth of properties destroyed all through these conflicts. We must therefore support this initiative in our own interest and development.
Farmers/herders clashes have wrecked a great havoc to our social cohesion in the state. It would serve no any purpose for us to recap how these conflicts have dealt a deadly blow on our social cohesion but suffice it to say however, that the conflict has damaged some existing bonds between our people and only this cattle ranching can heal the wounds. Supporting the state and federal government on establishment of cattle ranches in Nasarawa State has became an imperative, for we can not afford to ignore this beautiful initiative. We must ‘shine’ our eyes and have it always at the back of our minds that any person that comes to us with an untoward idea that we should not embrace cattle ranching, we should consider that person as our enemy.

–Bala wrote from Lafia



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