Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the federal government has expressed concerns over the growing wave of violent altercations between pastoralist and sedentary farmers, saying the trend must be halted before the elections.
At a meeting between the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, five state governors and security chiefs, the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh however conceded that the federal government has not done enough to cater for the needs of the herdsmen.
“The farmer and herdsmen must not have his life threatened by circumstances surrounding his profession. We do not want the farmer to lose his crops nor would we want anyone to. Over the years we have not done much to look seriously into the issue of livestock development in the country. People ask the question why should government get involved?
Why shouldn’t the herdsmen manage their own livestock? I am sad to tell you that in the last 50 years until recently we may have done enough for the rice farmer, the cassava farmer, the maize farmer, the cocoa farmer, but we haven’t done much for herdsmen and that inability and omission on our part is resulting in the crises we are witnessing today.
Cattle Colonies “We are planning a programme called cattle colonies not ranches but colonies where at least 5, 000 hectares of land would be made available, adequate water, adequate pasture would be made available.
We also want to stop cattle rearers from roaming about; the culture of cattle roaming about will be stopped.
The cattle will be provided with water and adequate security by the rangers, adequate pasture milk collection even security against rustlers to enable them lead a normal life. This has been done elsewhere in India, Ethiopia and even Brazil”, Ogbeh explained.
Declaring the meeting open, Dambazau had earlier established a nexus between communal and electoral violence, stating that; “Knowing that general elections are fast approaching and considering the history of political and election violence in Nigeria, all necessary steps must be taken to ensure that the recently witnessed crimes and violent conflicts are curtailed with utmost dispatch”.
The meeting which is ongoing was convened by Gen. Dambazau and has governors of Benue, Kaduna, Niger, Nasarawa and Taraba in attendance as well as the Inspector General of Police, DG DSS, and Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps NSCDC.
Speaking further, he said; “I wish to express the appreciation of the FG for your (governors’) individual commitment and cooperation with the federal security agencies in addressing the menace of rural crimes particularly kidnapping, rustling and the most recent violent clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
“Threats to peace and public safety in any form at any location will not be tolerated. It is the responsibility of governments at all levels to provide, unconditionally, sustainable peace and public safety within their territorial boundaries. Against this background, the meeting is convened to primarily bring us together to share our experiences on the aforementioned security challenges.
The meeting will then agree on necessary measures to be taken and apportion responsibilities.
“The immediate repercussion of this menace include hunger due to acute shortage of food, diseases, criminal activities and deepening animosity between ethnic and religious groups.
The current situation is very dangerous for the northern part of the country in particular and the country in general”.
The meeting is currently in a closed session.