By Omolola Pedro
The Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has said that modernising the livestock sector is key to resolving herder-farmer conflict, which threatens Nigeria’s political stability and food security.
Ganduje made this known while inaugurating the 27-man committee on National Conference on Livestock Reforms and Mitigation or Associated Conflict in Nigeria in Abuja.
He said, “It is an established fact that modernising the livestock sector is key to resolving the herder-farmer conflict, which threatens Nigeria’s political stability and food security”.
The governor recalled that Nigeria’s latest plan for curbing herder-farmer conflict is still facing obstacles, particularly political opposition.
His words: “You will also remember 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 lack of expertise derail the project, while the (Coronavirus disease) COVID-19 pandemic intensified the challenges. That plan represents Nigeria’s most comprehensive strategy yet to encourage pastoralists to switch to ranching and other sedentary livestock production systems”.
While addressing the committee, which is headed by the former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, Ganduje added that although the plan had earned the endorsement of many state governments, but deficient political leadership, popular misperceptions about its purpose, and widespread insecurity are hindering its progress.
“In several states, especially in the North, there are duly grazing reserves, a majority of which are degraded and are without pasture or water especially in the dry season. Also, about 13 states agreed to allocate 5,000 hectares of land for ranching or livestock production. 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. 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 (Economic Community of West African States) ECOWAS Transhumance Protocol, which Nigeria signed in 1998, which 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. It is gladdening, therefore, to say that since assumption of office in 2015, we in Kano have led the way and have 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”, he disclosed.