Herders, farmers’ crises: Ganduje appoints ex-INEC chair, Jega, others on reform-conference

Ganduje

As part of efforts to provide lasting solution to the constant herders, farmers’ conflict across Nigeria, Kano state governor, Dr. Umar Abdullahi Ganduje has inaugurated a high-power committee to organise a national conference to look into all the issues surrounding the plan to ease conflicts associated with and the need for reforms in the livestock sector.

The conference committee is headed by the immediate past Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Attahiru Jega.

 The 27-man committee also have Pro-Chancellor Yusuf Maitama Sule, University Prof. Jibrila Dahiru Amin, former SSG Niger state and Professor of Veterinary Medicine University of Ibadan Muhammad Yahaya Kuta, Managing Director Guardian Newspapers Mr. Martins-Oloja, Executive Secretary National Commission for Nomadic Education Prof. Bashir Haruna Usman, and Managing Director L&Z Integrated Farms Ltd M. D. Abubakar.

Also listed on the committee are national President All Farmers Association of Nigeria Arch. Kabiru Ibrahim, former Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Representative in Nigeria Rabe Isah Mani, an expert in ruminant medicine at the University of Sokoto, Prof. Aminu Ibrahim Daneji;  and Prof. Isma’ila Zango of the Department of Sociology Bayero University, Kano (BUK), among others as members, while Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, serves as secretary of the committee.

The Jega-led committee is tasked to “work towards planning and organising a befitting national conference on Farmers-Herders conflicts in Nigeria and to select appropriate theme for the conference, select chairman, paper presenters/speakers, panelists, special guest(s) of honour, guests of honour, other dignitaries and delegates for the conference, as well as appropriate date and venue for the event; the committee is to also provide adequate publicity before, ring and after the event, submit a report on the conference with observations and recommendations for appropriate action and examine the ECOWAS Protocol pertaining to the movement of cattle across member countries, of the sub-region.”

Inaugurating the committee Thursday in Abuja, Governor Ganduje said the decision by government to host a national conference on “Livestock Reforms and Mitigation of Associated Conflicts in Nigeria” underscored the recognition that the primary business of government is law and order. 

The governor recalled that in 2019, the federal government launched a 10-year National Livestock Transformation Plan to curtail the movement of cattle, boost livestock production and control the country’s deadly herder-farmer conflict, “but inadequate political leadership, delays, funding uncertainties and a lack of expertise derail the project, while COVID-19 pandemic intensified the challenges.

“It is regrettable that deficient political leadership, popular misperceptions about its purpose and widespread insecurity hindered its progress.”

According to Ganduje, the move by the federal government to establish the Ruga Settlement-which was received out of misconception with mass of criticisms, resulted in the suspension of the project in which contracts had already been awarded. 

“There is also a clear sense which I think must be appreciated, that the federal government cannot dictate to states what to do with their land. This is so because the Land Use Act of 1978 puts land under the control of governors on behalf of their states. Even for use of federal lands in the states according to the Supreme Court, building or development control permit must be sought from the governors of the states. 

“I am a strong proponent of restriction of herders’ movements into Nigeria from neighbouring countries as part of solution to tackling herder/farmer clashes. However, another issue worth taking into account is the ECOWAS Transhumance Protocol which Nigeria signed in 1998. This guarantees free movement to pastoralists, herders across the sub-region. As signatories to that Protocol, Nigeria is obliged not to restrict the movement of herders and their cattle from other ECOWAS countries. This is an issue to be looked into.

“This has added a further complication to the problems we already have, besides most foreign herdsmen are exposed to the firearms market and are unknown to the local farming populace,” he said.

The governor said since inception, his administration had led the way and had been pioneering the initiation of development-oriented interventions at reformation of the livestock sector to mitigate farmer/herder conflicts by tackling the issue headlong. 

“This includes the adoption of far-reaching measures to deal with the situation and also proposed collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank to fashion out a resettlement scheme that will take into consideration the educational, socio-economic and security well-being of the nomads as well as the disturbing issue of cattle rustling, banditry and encroachment of grazing areas due to the high increase of our population. 

“You may wish to know that until our intervention, activities of cattle rustlers such as rape, killings, abduction and banditry had paralyzed economic activities in communities particularly in Sumaila and Doguwa local government areas, which left a lot of cattle farmers in a state of despair.

“We started by mobilising security agencies and hence the formation of a Police Anti-Cattle Rustling Squad, Ambush Squad and Tactical Observation points along the Falgore Forest. The police teams were deployed to Tundun Wada, Doguwa and Sunmaila local government areas of the state, and were given all the support they need to arrest the rustlers and prevent further loss of cattle in the state. 

 “A military formation was also established in the forest to further reinforce the police effort, in addition to the construction of four prototype security dormitories at Kano entrances that included rearing industry from socio-cultural to socio-economic venture. It also aimed at putting an end to the persistent wandering of herdsmen and also help expand them economically. The Kano State bureau of statistics has undertaken a statistic of all herdsmen in Kano for planning purposes.”

Ganduje, however, called for more collaboration with neighbours in the Chad Basin, especially border communities to prevent the movement of small arms, and disarming armed pastoralists and bandits who go through borders day after day. 

Responding, Professor Jega expressed concern over the politicisation of the farmers-herders conflict, assuring that the outcome of the proposed national conference would proffer lasting solution to the issue.

The former vice chancellor of the Bayero University Kano, called on well- meaning Nigerians to participate in the proposed conference which would form the basis for the government to address issues of the nation’s stability its socio-economic growth.

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