Baba Ngelezarma, national secretary of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), has blamed governors for clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
The clashes have led to the loss of many lives and destruction of properties worth millions of naira in Benue, Plateau, Taraba states among other states.
Speaking at a town hall meeting organised by the federal government in Abuja on Thursday, Ngelezarma said his organisation is not opposed to ranching but the government should make it attractive to the herders.
“We are not opposed to ranching, all that we are saying let us begin to identify grazing reserves, let us know their current status in the view of developing them and making them attractive to the pastorialist. The cow to them is a thing of prestige, a means of livelihood,” he said.
“You have to put something in place for them to see before you accept. A lot has been said about this issue. Up till now, nobody is looking at the root cause of the crisis and the people responsible are the state governors.
“How I wish through chairman of the governors forum or northern governors forum is here. He is supposed to be here. All the grazing reserves we have in the country are located in the northern part of the country.
“The state governors have more responsibility than the federal government because this is their primary assignment, they are custodians of the land, they are the custodians of security, education in their states. The federal government’s hand are tied, we know that.”
He said the association submitted a road map to Kashim Shettima, chairman of the northern governors forum, on ways the crisis could be resolved.
On his part, Peter Mayowa, a representative of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said the open grazing should be allowed to continue while the government gradually introduces ranching.
“If you introduce a policy it will be difficult to implement, let the two (open grazing and ranching) together. The old one will phase out,” he said.
Earlier, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, reiterated that the clashes between herdsmen and farmers is not religious.
“For those who might be tempted to view the clashes between farmers and herdsmen from the ethno-religious prism, I will cite two instances to debunk such postulation.
Zamfara state is probably the epicentre of cattle rustling in Nigeria. Those who rustle cattle are Muslims. The owners of the cattle they rustle are Muslims. Both groups most likely belong to the same ethnic group,” the minister said.
“Then, there is the case of Kebbi state, where 70 percent of those who are in jail are there due to the clashes between farmers and herdsmen. The farmers whose crops are eaten by cows are Muslim Fulani, and the herders whose cows eat the crops are Muslim Fulani: same religion; same ethnicity.
“Yet, clashes still occur, to such a level that people land in jail. I have cited these examples so that we can be open to interrogating the real causes of the incessant clashes that have captured national and international attention and turned former neighbours to bitter enemies, so that together we can help to evolve a lasting solution to this crisis.”