Southern states reject ranching option for herdsmen

By AdvocateNews on 05/02/2021

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State governments on Thursday differed on ranching for herdsmen as a solution to killings and kidnappings by herders.

Officials of Oyo, Cross River, Kogi, Enugu, Ondo and Ekiti state governments in separate interviews said their states  had no plans to establish ranches for herdsmen.

But their counterparts in Zamfara and Gombe states said they had begun plans to set up ranches for herdsmen.

While Gombe State’s Director General,  Press Affairs  Government House,  Ismaila Misilli, said  the state had allocated 130 hectares of land for the project, Zamfara State Director General Media, Publicity and Enlightenment, Alhaji Yusuf Idris, said the state Ruga settlements would soon be completed.

But officials of other states described ranching as a private business, adding that interested investors should establish it.

Following increasing killings and kidnappings by herdsmen in the country,  there have been renewed  calls on state and federal governments to establish ranches for herdsmen.

For example, the Vice President of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria , Sheikh Abdur’rasheed Hadiyatullahi, in an interview with journalists in Osogbo, Osun State on Thursday last week advised, governors of South-West states to consider creation of ranches before  banning  open grazing.

Recall that the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, had on January 18 issued a seven-day ultimatum to herdsmen to vacate the state’s  forest reserves.

Although Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria initially opposed the order, after a peace meeting on January 25 involving Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Akeredolu, the cattle breeders accepted Ondo State Government’s directive.

In an interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday, the Chief Press Secretary to Oyo State governor, Taiwo Adisa, said  herdsmen in the state were free to apply for land to build ranches for their livestock.

Adisa added that the state government would not establish a ranch.

According to him, ranching is a private business and anybody that is interested in it  is free to apply for land to build his business just like other entrepreneurs.

He said, “The Oyo State anti-open grazing law sees ranching as a personal business.  Herdsmen are free to apply for land for that purpose.”

The Cross River State Government also said it was not planning to establish ranches in the state.

The Special Adviser Media and Publicity to Governor Ben Ayade, Christian Ita, who  disclosed this  in Calabar on Thursday, said,  “We don’t have problems with herders. You only go into ranching if you have issues with them. We don’t have that problem in the state.”

Also, the Kogi State Government ruled out the  establishment of government ranches.  It described ranching  as a private business.

It said it would  protect  any entrepreneur willing to establish ranches in any part of the state.

The state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Kingsley Fanwo, who disclosed this, stated, “As a government, we will do all within the law to ensure we do not witness farmers/herders clashes.

“As you are aware, ranching is a private business and people have ranches even within the state. So it is not something new. Any interested entrepreneur can decide to have a ranch. It is acceptable and it is not only the Fulani that rear cattle. Our people are also doing well in that business.”

According to him, the state government has mechanism for ensuring peace between herders and farmers.  He warned that the  state   would not tolerate criminal activities  that could jeopardize peace.

The Enugu State Government said it had yet to decide  whether or not to set up  ranches to curb herders and farmers clashes in the state.

Enugu was one of the states that had recorded killings and destruction of farms by  herdsmen.

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr Chidi Aroh, in an interview with The PUNCH, said,  “No decision has been made on that” when asked whether his state was planning ranching to end herdsmen attacks in the state.

When contacted, the Osun State Commissioner for Information, Funke Egbemode, said the state would take a decision on ranches at the appropriate time, noting that what the state Governor, Gboyega  Oyetola, was concerned about was  keeping all residents safe.

Egbemode said, “We will need time for a proper reaction to this. Let’s give it a little bit of time before we will come out with what we are going to do. For now, residents are living peacefully.

“Everybody living in Osun, we maybe of different extractions, but we live in peace as a community without crisis. And we will continue to do so. The decision on that will be taken jointly by all the residents. For now, the governor is on top of everything that will make us have peace in the state.”

Also in a chat with one of our correspondents, the Chairman of the Committee on Peaceful Coexistence Between Fulani/Bororo and the Crop Farmers in the  state, Mr Mudasiru Toogun, called on private investors to establish ranches.

Toogun said government might not be able to finance a project such as creation of ranches, adding that investors would recoup investments within six months of establishment of ranches as herders would also be willing to pay for the services such a business would render to them.

In Ekiti State, the Commissioner for Information, Mr Akin Omole, said establishment of cattle ranches was not in the 2021 budget of the state, hence it might not come up in the next one year.

Omole, who said cattle breeding was a private business, stated that those in the business of cattle rearing in the state were at liberty to create their cattle ranches.

He said, “It is for the government to consider its priorities at a particular time. We have a budget that we are going to implement this year and I don’t think creation of cattle ranches is in this year’s budget.

“By this, it will only mean it is not something we can do in the next one year, if at all we will do it. It is not part of our programme for this year.

“If government wants to support farming, be it crop production or those in the field of animal production, the government can do so. The government will determine the way and manner it wants to go about it.

“If we say we are banning open grazing, those who are into that business are at liberty to create their own ranches. Our government will set priorities and look at the needs of the generality of Ekiti people, if ranching does not fall within our priorities for now, we might not want to take that advice,” Omole said.

The Ondo State Government also  said it had no plan to create any ranch for herdsmen in any part of the state.

The Special Adviser to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Security Matters , Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, who  disclosed this in an interview, stated,  “ Ranching is not in our plan.  The government still has an order in place to prevent herdsmen clashing with farmers. This order is enough to prevent herdsmen clashes. We are peace-loving in this state.”

But Benue State Government it was working on a pilot cattle ranch, which it conceived in 2017, after banning open grazing.

The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Timothy Ijir, said that one pilot cattle ranch had so far been established, but  not completed.

He stated,  “That is the reason we have a temporary ranch where we keep seized cows and the permanent one is at Gyado  along Gboko road, Makurdi. Right now, others have not been established due to budgetary constraints, but we are already working on it.”

Also  the Akwa Ibom State Government said it was opposed to open grazing, adding that it was  planning to establish   its own ranch.

The state Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Ini Ememobong, in an interview said, “ Recall that we had earlier planned to have a ranch because we are strongly opposed to open grazing because it is a source of friction between farmers and herders. That plan is still in focus.”

In Zamfara State,  the construction of the three pilot Ruga settlements embarked upon by Governor Bello Matawalle would soon be completed.

This was revealed by the Director General Media, Publicity and Enlightenment, Alhaji Yusuf Idris.

Idris said, the Ruga settlement in Maradun Local Government Area would soon be completed and put to use by the Fulani herdsmen.

He also stated that the other two Ruga settlements in Dansadau and Zurmi emirates would be inaugurated soon.

Idris said the state government was also looking into the possibility of establishing other Ruga settlements in all parts of the state with a view to providing accommodation and grazing lands for the Fulani herdsmen.

The Director General,  Press Affairs Gombe Government House, Misilli, said the state had shown willingness to end herders/farmers clash in the state by donating the 130 hectare reserve.

Misilli disclosed this in an interview with one of our correspondents, adding that the governor in synergy with the Federal Government was geared  towards ending the perennial challenges.

According to Misilli, “Wawa Zange grazing reserve is one of the projects under the National Livestock  Transformation Plan designed to curb herders and farmers clash. The grazing reserve was handed over by the state government under Governor Inuwa Yahaya to the Federal Government as part of effort to curbing the challenge.”

Also  on Thursday, Nasarawa State Governor,   Abdullahi Sule, indicated that the state government was in support of ranching as  he the Fulani to embrace  the National Livestock Transformation Programme, which would begin in the state soon.

Governor made the call when he hosted members of the Fulbe Youths and Women Ruga-Ruga Campaign Organization, at the Government House, on Thursday.

According to the governor, with the NLTP about to commence in the state, particularly with the Federal Government securing financial grant from the Netherlands government, to the tune of 400, 000 Euros, for the project to commence in Nasarawa State, the Fulani stand to benefit tremendously if they embrace and support the programme.

Meanwhile, no fewer than 37 herdsmen and 5, 000 cows have been arrested by the Ondo State Security Network Agency, Amotekun, for violating the order of the state government to vacate  forest reserves in the state.

The state governor had  issued  a four-point order, which included ejection of herdsmen from the forest reserves, ban on  movement of cattle along the highways  and within the cities,  ban on night grazing and under-aged grazing .

It was gathered that in spite of the order, the Amotekun corps arrested some herders grazing in the forests.

The state Commander of the Amotekun,  Chief Adetunji Adeleye, who spoke to one of our correspondents on Thursday, confirmed the arrest,  saying his men were still in the forest reserves  to flush out   herders.

Adeleye said some of the herdsmen,  who could not cope with  conditions of the state government, had met with the corps and had opted to move out of the state peacefully.

He disclosed that the suspects were arrested in Ala, Oda and Ofosu forests of the state.

He said,  “Some of them have opted to leave the state because they couldn’t meet with our terms and conditions. They came through,  the Chairman of Miyatti Allah in the state. Some opted to go to Osun,  Edo and Kogi states. So our men escorted to the boundaries of those states.  We have to monitor their movements out of the state so that they would not destroy farms on their way out.

“ About 37 herders have been arrested with about 5, 000 cows. The majority of the herders have been coming to us through the their chairman and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Hausa Matters. We will hand over the culprits to the chairman to lead them out and anybody caught again after this would be arrested and prosecuted.”

The Amotekun boss implored the farmers to always call on the corps whenever the cows invade and destroy their farms,  saying the corps would respond immediate.

The Miyetti Allah said its members were not leaving the state.

The group was reacting to the statement by  Adeleye that some of the herdsmen were opting out of the state when they could not meet up with terms and condition of the state.

The Chairman of MACBAN in Ondo State,  Alhaji Garba Bello, in an interview, said the association was only waiting to  register with the state government.

Bello said, “ My members are not leaving the state.   We obey the law,  We are even waiting for the government to open the register. We want to register and we will go back to our work,  so I am not aware that my members are leaving the state.” --Punch

Posted 05/02/2021 08:30:03 AM


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