The federal government has backtracked on its plan to establish cattle colonies, saying it would now focus on the establishment of ranches as a solution to the long drawn out clashes between herdsmen and farmers, resulting in the killings of hundreds of people and wanton destruction of property across the country, especially in Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Adamawa States.
The Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazau (rtd), who made this known in Abuja at a stakeholders’ dialogue on the eradication of herders-farmers conflict in Nigeria, said additional measure put in place by the federal government through his ministry was the setting up of agro rangers.
The minister, who spoke at the event organised by the Alumni Association of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in collaboration with Presidential Committee on Small and Light Weapons, said the incessant loss of lives, property and environmental degradation elicited the conflict.
Speaking via the Deputy Commandant General of NSCDC, Dr. Mohammed Jega, the minister added that to address the menace, the federal government had not surrendered in its efforts at overcoming the insecurity challenges by proposing to establish cattle ranches.
“It has further been established that climate change, scarce resources, trans-boarder migration cause pastoralists mainly from other African countries to move through the North to other parts of Nigeria in search of grazing land for their livestock and this constitute the security challenge we are facing today,” he added.
“Their movement has brought about clashes, which is invariably affecting the level of food shortage thereby causing food insecurity and this further threatens the stability of our nation. Security is an integral part of livelihood and well-being of the citizenry and we must ensure that these challenges are surmountable.
“The competition for scarce resources has often resulted into a more frequent and destructive conflict than ever. The decade of the 1990s has witnessed the highest number of armed conflicts most of which are consequences of struggle for natural resources.”
He further added that “herdsmen by nature are nomads who move from one place to another to rear their animals for economic and social survival particularly seeking a place to cater for his animals.
“Similarly, the social standing of the herdsman depends on the number of cattle possessed, just the status of a man in the society rests on the number of properties on which his social class can be adjudged.
“Thus, the herdsman guards his cattle jealously. The incessant resource conflicts witnessed in that nation have resulted in loss of lives, properties and environmental degradation on the strength of this, communal conflicts over land resources are usually fierce with massive destruction of lives and properties as witnessed in states like Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Adamawa and Plateau, etc.”
Danbazau was of the view that “in order to address the menace, the federal government has not relented its efforts in overcoming the insecurity challenges by proposing to establish cattle ranches. In 1966, the northern regional government of Nigeria initiated one of the first measures to respond to the crisis of herders/farmers by establishing cattle ranches but was abandoned by the previous governments.’’
In his remarks, the Chairman of Presidential Committee on Small and Light Weapons, Ambassador Emmanuel Imohe, said in view of what was happening today, Nigerians must sit together and talk to themselves with open mind to address the insecurity threats confronting the nation.
According to him, “It is as a result of the foregoing as well as the further impact or threat of same that we, as Nigerians, must sit together and talk to ourselves with open minds with a view to critically and constructively diagnosing this raging security threat in order to proffer enduring solution for the consideration of our government.”
He blamed the porous nature of Nigerian border with other West African countries for influx of illegal alliance and smuggling of deadly weapons into the country.