• NEC instructs Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna, Plateau to provide land for ranches
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, agreed to stop movement of herdsmen starting with Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna and Plateau.
Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi who disclosed this to State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said NEC backed the immediate creation of ranches across the country.
The NEC comprises state governors and relevant ministries of government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Umahi said the five worst affected states which have witnessed killings from the herders/farmers clashes were expected to make land available for ranches.
Already, Niger and Kaduna have given lands while Plateau is about to do so.
He added that with ranching, the nomadic herders and their families would be able to access good medical facilities and good schools for their children. Ranching, he added, would also improve the well-being of the cattle.
Umahi also disclosed that the Federal Government and the affected states would still iron out the interventions expected from the two parties.
He said foreign herdsmen would be expected to show some travel documents, eventhough visa is not needed for movement of West Africans.
Early this year, NEC, disturbed by the constant conflicts between herdsmen and farmers raised a committee of nine governors with the vice president as chairman.
According to Umahi, the committee went into deliberations. After a couple of meetings, they decided that the most five affected states should be visited. So, they came up with a sub-technical committee of three governors, chaired by governor of Ebonyi State, with the governor’s of Plateau and Adamawa as members.
According to the Ebonyi governor, “we were constituted to visit the five core states. Later, other states like Plateau and Kaduna states were also added. But we were able to visit only five states- Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba,Jigawa and Zamfara states.
“The core causes of the conflicts, we were made to understand, were perception, and of course, competition for scares resources and banditry or what you can call pure criminal activities through cattle rustling, kidnapping etc.
“Today, we look at three categories of herdsmen in Nigeria. We look at the foreign herdsmen that come in due to the treaty and we continue to say that the treaty is not being properly implemented. For any herdsman to come into Nigeria from outside, there should be a kind of certification, there must be a letter, even though you are not coming in with a visa, you have to travel with ECOWAS documentation. Animals that are coming into the country are required to be quarantined, but this is not being done. So, this is one category of them. Secondly, we have the nomadic herdsmen, who during the dry season, travel from up north to the middle belt down to the south. This creat conflicts.
“Also, foreign herdsmen coming all through the way from neighbouring countries and traveling through the farmlands also cause conflicts. Then, of course, we have the migrant herdsmen who migrate for a very long time and settle with the villagers and even inter-marry with them.These are the three categories we have in Nigeria.
“In all, we agree that movement is not either profitable to the herdsmen because they value the milk from the cow even more than the cow itself. So, the movement is not healthy for the cows as it dries up the meat and give less than two litres of milk per cow per day.
“So, we condemn the issues of foreign invasion by foreign herdsmen and I am happy that the FG is doing something about it…
“In all, we agreed that there is a more profitable and modern way of raising these cows, which is by ranching. So, we have agreed that the states involved are going to give lands. Niger and Kaduna have given lands and Plateau is also giving land. Ranching in being practised in Mambila, in Taraba State and they have success stories with regards. We also agreed that through the agric ministry, we have the need to introduce new species of cows. The minister told us that there are done new species that produce as much as 60 litres of milk per day per cow, and that the cows weighs as much as 900 Kgs but our own weigh less than 200kgs. So, we have agreed that we are going to work on these new species, while also working with our ranching. We also agreed that livestock production in Nigeria has not been taken care of.
“As we are taking care of the farmers by way of the Anchor Borrowers Scheme, we should extend the gesture to the herdsmen. And it was discovered that most of these cows are not being herded by their owners. Big men buy and give them out to the herders. So, the children of the herders have nothing to inherit. They, therefore, go into cattle rustling and other forms of criminalities.
“Through this policy and intervention in the livestock production, it will be possible for the herdsmen to own livestock and have something for the future.
“We also agreed that there is need for good lives for the herdsmen. Through these policies, their children will be able to go to schools. There will be nomadic education and medical facilities through these ranches for the herdsmen and their animals. Grasses will be planted, irrigation and dams will be created for source of water,” he stated.