FG signals need to remodel the ranching program to solve herder-farmer clashes.
The Federal Government has indicated the need to revisit and remodel the ranching program to address the recurrent farmer-herder clashes across the country. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, revealed this in a memo, which was signed by a director in the SGF office, Mr. David Attah. The memo was titled “Heightened Misunderstanding between Farmers and Herders in Abia, Delta and Kwara States” and was addressed to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Minister of Information.
The SGF said that the recurring invasion of farmlands by migrant herders with accompanying hostilities across affected agricultural settlements had continued to pose a threat to food security in the country. He added that the situation had affected the peaceful co-existence of farmers and herders in the affected communities. “The aforementioned development underscores the need to revisit and remodel the ranching program. And to partly facilitate the campaign against inflammatory and divisive statements that are capable of escalating the subsisting crisis between farmers and herders,” the SGF added.
The SGF said there is a looming confrontation in some communities.
The secretary urged the ministers to take necessary actions on the issue to ensure that farmers and herders co-exist peacefully across the country. According to him, there is a looming confrontation between itinerant herders and farmers in Opiene Community, Arochukwu Local Government Area (LGA) of Abia over the alleged invasion by the herders on farmlands in adjourning Obiene forest. According to him, about 15 nomads arrived the agrarian settlement from neighboring Itu Village in Gdukpani LGA of Cross River.
He said that the President-General of the community, Kalu Irem, had drawn the attention of the government to the matter and urged the appropriate officials to intervene to avoid confrontation. The SGF continued, “Similarly, uneasy calm has pervaded Ogwashi-Uku and Ubulu-Unor Communities in Aniocha LGA of Delta State due to the increasing presence of strange pastoralists in the area. The anxiety followed the refusal of some residents to serve as guarantors to the intruding herders, who have already encroached on some farms at Chibata and Aboh-Ogwashi Villages in the same LGA.”
FG had introduced the National Livestock Transformation program in 2021.
“Relatedly,” said the SGF, “in Kwara, some nomads operating around Marafa axis of Ilorin-East LGA were reportedly ready to confront members of their host community. The planned confrontation was as a result of the recent attack on two of their kinsmen in the area. Meanwhile, the victims, Sadik Isah and Abubakar Bindo were said to be receiving treatment at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital.” It is recalled that the federal government had introduced the National Livestock Transformation Program as a solution to the farmer-herder clashes.
In December 2021, the government released N1 billion to Kaduna, Plateau, Nassarawa and Adamawa States for the commencement of the remodeled livestock program. A total of 22 out of the 36 states of the country had indicated interest in the program in October 2021. An initial attempt by the federal government in 2018 to establish 94 ranches in 10 states prone to herder-farmer clashes was stalled because stakeholders had misunderstood the program. The National Economic Council (NEC) of which Vice President Yemi Osinbajo chaired at the time, had approved a 10-year National Livestock Plan which would cost about N179 billion.
Buhari’s RUGA plan met stiff opposition from Nigerians.
The Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) plan was introduced by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2019. The Ruga policy (Which literally means “human settlement policy”) is a Nigerian policy aimed at resolving the conflict between nomadic Fulani herdsmen and farmers in agrarian communities. The policy was suspended after much outcry from Nigerians. It was aimed at creating reserved communities where herders would live, grow and tend to their cattle, produce milk, and undertake other activities associated with their cattle business without having to move around in search of grazing land for their cattle.
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