The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has called for an end to open grazing to tackle insecurity and address farmer-herder crisis in the country.
Audu Ogbe, ACF chairman, disclosed the forum’s position in a statement issued in Kaduna, on Monday.
Ogbe said “the ACF does not see any reason to object to a decision taken in the best interest of all”.
He said no society will continue to watch as herders invade farms, leading to a food security crisis.
“The fact of the matter is that the crisis emanates from the belief by most herdsmen that they are free to enter any farm, eat up the crops and rape or kill any one raising objections. Nobody or society can accept that,” he said.
“The current high price of garri is one obvious reason of this behaviour. Few cassava farms cannot grow to maturity before it is harvested by the farmers. So, food security is already being threatened.”
Ogbe’s remarks come a week after governors of the southern region resolved to ban open grazing and the movement of cattle by foot.
The governors said they “observed that the incursion of armed herders, criminals and bandits in the southern part of the country has created a severe security challenge, such that citizens are not able to live their normal lives, including pursuing various productive activities, leading to threats to food supply and general security”.
Consequently, they “resolved that open grazing of cattle be banned across southern Nigeria”.
While backing the call to end open grazing, ACF noted that “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 regards to boundaries whether state or regional. They have to be stopped”.
The forum urged northern governors to also consider use of ranches as an alternative to open grazing in the region.
“Therefore, the Umar Abdullahi Ganduje formula must be adopted to stop the entry into Nigeria of cattle from West Africa. The solution is for Nigeria to seek an amendment to Article 3 of the ECOWAS Protocol especially as regards the free movement of cattle and other livestock without special permits,” the ACF statement reads.
“If this is done, we have over 5 million hectatres of land in old grazing reserves left, enough to accommodate over 40 million cows if well grassed and watered.
“Northern governors should immediately look into this and see the viability. 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 AfDB, the World Bank, EU or the Kuwait Fund or any source willing to support us in resolving this problem.
“Hurling abuses, trading suspicion and threatening warfare as is currently the trend will only produce grief and disaster.”