Clashes: FG moves to meet key Fulani leaders on grazing reserves

By Musa Gada, Sokoto

The Federal Government has announced that it was planning to meet with key leaders of Fulani tribe in the coming days to get their support on the establishment of grazing reserves for cattle rearers.

The move, the government said, would effectively halt the recurrent clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

Although it agreed that a large percentage of Nigerian cattle rearers were from the Fulani tribe, the government explained that many of the arrested herdsmen who were involved in various violent clashes across the country were not Fulani’s.

This announcement is coming just as the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, called for a constructive engagement between the government, herdsmen and herds owners, stressing that most herds owners were not Fulani’s.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who delivered a key note address during a retreat on livestock and dairy development in Nigeria, declared that Nigeria was in trouble, but noted that the government was doing its best to solve the country’s problems, as one of the ways of addressing these issues was the planned meeting with the Fulani leaders.

He said: “We are in trouble, every country gets into trouble from time to time, even the most developed. But that’s not an excuse for where we are. However, we are in trouble, our economy is down, our earnings are low, we have all kinds of conflict and we are also hungry. As Mr. President said when he signed the budget this year, he said, ‘I feel your pains,’ and we can truly feel it.

“The cost of food is high, it is difficult to pay school fees, power supply is epileptic because of destruction of gas supply facilities and there are many more concerns. But whenever you are in trouble, that’s the time to think. Lamentations don’t help, which is why organized programmes like this are meant to fix some of these problems we have.

“In the next few days we shall be meeting key persons among the Fulani’s and we will talk to them to get their buy-ins into the programmes that we have as part of addressing these concerns.”

Ogbeh, stated that Nigeria spends $1.3bn annually importing milk and its related products, adding that the government had over the years failed to categorize cattle rearers as farmers, not until the herdsmen stated causing havoc in towns and remote communities.

He said: “We are facing a conflict, we have to end it and we will end it. Take my words for it! We’ve had enough killings of innocent citizens. No country can boast of how many of its own citizens that its own citizens kill every day. It is not an achievement. Those perpetuating these acts should know that evil has a way of returning to its source. No wonder Shakespeare said, ‘upon horror’s head shall horror accumulate’. So we must do everything to stop the killings.”

Ogbeh revealed that the number of states that had provided land for the establishment of grazing reserves had increased to 13, up from the 11 that was announced last week.

In his address, Tambuwal, who was a special guest at the retreat, said: “We support and commend the policy initiatives of the Federal Government on grazing and grazing reserves. The roaming about of cattle is not the best way to raise them and it is not the best way to ensure that you have a healthy and more beneficial cattle. I believe that there should be a proper and a more constructive engagement with the herdsmen and herds owners; please mark my words, herdsmen and herds owners.

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