The spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed has said that the ban on open grazing by some state governments is counterproductive and damaging to the nation’s spirit of coexistence.
Baba-Ahmed made the comment during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
“We are not against open grazing. We are in support of ranching, domesticating cattle, modern ways on how both the cattle and the Fulani man can rest from this worrisome way of which it can be done.
“What we are insisting on is that this haste to sign laws that ban open grazing is both counterproductive [and] very damaging to the spirit of coexistence”.
“When you hear governors say you’re on your own, find a way to protect yourselves, you are then talking about anarchy.
“The more the states fail to provide security to communities, the more communities become desperate”, he stated.
He noted “if there are routes and grazing reserves, they don’t necessarily contradict the law against open grazing. Open grazing exists because there are no routes and reserves”.
The Fulani, he added, roams around wherever he goes because he doesn’t have access to what legitimately belongs to him from what the government has provided.
According to him, the issue should be treated with importance.
“It’s not a southern issue, it’s not a northern issue, it’s a national issue,” the NEF spokesman stated.
He faulted President Muhammadu Buhari and the state governors on the handling of the matter.
His comments come days after President Muhammadu Buhari approved the recommendations of a committee to review “with dispatch,” 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in the country, “to determine the levels of encroachment”.
Among other things, the committee recommended the production of maps and geo-mapping/tagging of sites, analysis of findings and report preparations as well as design appropriate communication on Grazing Reserves and operations.
Clashes between herders and farmers have lasted for ages in Nigeria. The herders – mostly from the northern regions of the country – move to the southern part in search of pasture for their livestock.
Locals often accuse them of several crimes including killing, kidnapping, and rape. But the herdsmen deny any wrongdoing, saying they are being targeted.
Attempts by the government to resolve the issue have, however, been largely resisted as many accuse the Federal Government of having sinister motives.