17th May, 2021
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), the apex northern Nigeria political organisation has backed the call of the Southern Governors to ban open grazing of cattle.
ACF Chairman and former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh in a statement on Monday said, “the ACF does not see any reason to object to a decision taken in the best interest of all.”
“The fact of the matter is that, the crisis emanates from the belief by most herdsmen that they are free to enter any farm, eat up the crops and rape or kill any one raising objections. Nobody or society can accept that.
“The current high price of garri is one obvious reason of this behaviour. Few cassava farms cannot grow to maturity before it is harvested by the farmers. So, food security is already being threatened.”
Chief Ogbeh advised the governors in all states not to think that merely banning open grazing will end the crisis.
“The bulk of the violent herders are the ones marching in from neighbouring African countries in large numbers, thousands at a time and showing no regards to boundaries whether State or regional. They have to be stopped.
“Therefore the Umar Abdullahi Ganduje formula must be adopted to stop the entry into Nigeria of cattle from West Africa.
“The solution is for Nigeria to seek an amendment to Article 3 of the ECOWAS protocol especially as regards the free movement of cattle and other livestock without special permits.
“If this is done, we have over 5 million hectares of land in old grazing reserves left, enough to accommodate over 40 million cows if well grassed and watered.
“Northern governors should immediately look into this and see the viability.
“Within those spaces, ranches can be developed for lease to Nigerian herders so that this matter can be brought to an end. Thereafter any herders found roaming can be penalized.
“Our ECOWAS neighbours can find ways to deal with their own issues the way they deem fit.
“We can seek support from AfDB, the World Bank EU or the Kuwait Fund or any source willing to support us in resolving this problem.
“Hurling abuses, trading suspicion and threatening warfare as is currently the trend will only produce grief and disaster,” he stressed.