NORTHERN Nigerian pan-cultural association the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has said it does not see any reason to object to the recent decision taken by the Southern Governors Forum governors to ban open grazing across their states.
Last week, the Southern Governors Forum met in the Delta State capital Asaba where among other things, they agreed to ban grazing, called for the restructuring of the country and lent their support to the idea of state police forces. While the measures were broadly welcomed by civil society groups, several prominent northern politicians like senate president Senator Ahmad Lawan, Senator Ali Ndume and Senator Abdullahi Adamu have opposed the proposals.
However, the ACF has said it has no problem with the proposal because for starters, food prices are on the rise as a result of the current crisis, so the decision to ban open grazing is timely. ACF chairman Chief Audu Ogbeh, noted that the recent crisis emanates from the belief that the herders enter a farm eat up the crops and sometimes kill and rape victims.
Adding that no society will accept this, Chief Ogbeh was, however, quick to point out that banning open grazing will not end the crisis because the violent herders from the other African countries are mostly responsible for the crisis. He, thus suggested that amending Article Three of the Ecowas Protocol to only allow only herders with permits into a country might be needed.
Chief Ogbeh said: “There is, however, the need to advise 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 regard to boundaries whether state or regional, so they have to be stopped.
“Therefore the Ganduje formula must be adopted to stop the entry of cattle into Nigeria from West Africa. The solution is for Nigeria to seek an amendment to Article Three 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 5m hectatres of land in old grazing reserves left, enough to accommodate over 40m cows if well grassed and watered. Northern governors should immediately look into this and see the viability as 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 penalised. Our Ecowas neighbours can find ways to deal with their own issues the way they deem fit. We can seek support from the African Development Bank, the World Bank, European Union or the Kuwait Fund, or any source willing to support us in resolving this problem.
According to Chief Ogbeh, hurling abuse, trading suspicion and threatening warfare as is currently the trend will only produce grief and disaster. His comments are in stark contrast to bodies like the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, which said the Asaba proclamation is tantamount to secession.