By MUHAMMAD GARBA
For more than two weeks now, there has been media puff regarding the proposal put forward by Governor Abdullahi Umar Gaduje of Kano state that cattle movements from the north to the Middle Belt and southern part of the country be banned to put a stop to farmer/herders’ clashes.
The proposal spawned diverse feelings and also raised constitutional questions. Governor Ganduje believes such a law would nip in the bud the incessant incidences of clashes between farmers and herders as well as resolve many challenges in view of the scary, frightening, disgusting, disheartening and damning security problems in the country.
The movement of Fulani nomads from the north to the southern part of the country and from other West African Countries into Nigeria has, over the years been posing many challenges. While banning such migration within countries in western Africa remains a matter in the hands of the sub regional block, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Nigeria, which is at the centre of the controversy, considering its large population of Fulani nomads, ought to have taken a decisive action in order to address the myriads of challenges posed by this national and international migration.
As a Fulani man, Ganduje has been in the know on how to manage the farmer/herders’ conflict even before it degenerated to this level. His preposition for the ban on cattle movement is just the latest in the series of interpolations since 2015 to bring succor to the hardship being faced by Fulani herdsmen and to improve their livelihood.
In fact, he has been clamoring for a resettlement scheme that will take into consideration the educational, socio-economic and security well-being of the nomads as well as the disturbing issue of cattle rustling, banditry and encroachment of grazing areas due to the high increase of our population.
It is his belief that the North has vast land grazing areas despite the spike in population. It is just a matter of having the political will by leaders in the region to passion out a way of resettling the nomads through the provision of the necessities of life for them.
While it is not surprising that the proposal generated controversy. When the federal government decided to establish the Ruga Settlement following public outcry against the atrocities of armed herdsmen across the states of the federation, the measure was received with inundation of criticism. In fact, some governors strangely turned around to vow that not an inch of their land would be ceded for Ruga settlement. Consequent upon the pressure mounted on the Presidency, which was championing the cause, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the suspension of the project in which contracts had already been awarded.
That action has not in any way dampen Ganduje’s spirit. He was the first governor to embrace the nationally controversial project. While some of his colleagues did pontificate and derided the livestock transformation plan, he saw its socio- economic benefit and refused to be swayed by the negative propaganda that erupted against the project.
And as part of his commitment to this, the governor is currently collaborating with Islamic Development Bank on the establishment of Ruga Settlement at Dansoshiya Forest in Kiru local government. The measure has succeeded in curtailing the effect of banditry in that area.
The state government is also building many houses, 25 units of which have been completed and commissioned; constructing a dam; establishing a Cattle Artificial Insemination Centre and a veterinary clinic. In the long run, manufacturing entities will be established for the processing/transportation of meat, dairy and assorted products to any part of the country.
Until this intervention, activities of cattle rustlers such as rape, killings, abduction and banditry had paralyzed economic activities in communities particularly in Sumaila and Doguwa local government areas in the state, which left a lot of cattle farmers in a state of despair.
Ganduje also believes that the ranching policy is the most feasible way to address the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country and it is all-encompassing instead of the inferences being drawn that it was designed to promote the interest of a particular tribe.
The Ganduje’s Ruga settlement project is already taking shape and will take care of all category of herdsmen that include those rearing their cattle around their houses who do not pose a problem because they don’t move around; herders who are Nigerians from the northern part of the country, but will move across to the Middle-Belt and the southern part of the country during dry season in search of greener pasture and come back to their base in the North when the wet season set in.
While it is also expected that the ranch will take care of the social and economic needs of the herders, they will also be restricted from wandering to the South-South, South, South East and South Western part of the country during the farming season.
This is in addition to the mobilization of security agencies and hence the formation of a Police Anti-Cattle Rustling Squad, Ambush Squad and Tactical Observation points along the Falgore forest. The police teams were deployed to Tundun Wada, Doguwa and Sunmaila local government areas of the state, and were given all the support that they need to arrest the rustlers and prevent further loss of cattle in the state.
A military formation was also established to further reinforce the police effort, in addition to the construction of four prototype security dormitories at Kano entrances that included Katsina Road, Zaria Road, Maiduguri Road, Dambatta Road, Gwarzo Road and Falgore Game Reserve.
It is our hope that the National Assembly should as a matter of fact cosider Ganduje’s preposition and expedite action by making laws that will ensure ban on cattle movement as a way of maintaining peace and security in the country.
–Garba is the commissioner for information, Kano State