The presidency says the southern governors’ proposed plan to enforce the ban on open grazing is of “questionable legality”.
According to the presidency, the resolution reached in Asaba, Delta state capital, will not solve the farmer-herder clashes.
The governors had said the decision was taken as part of efforts to improve security in the region.
There have been mixed reactions over the Asaba resolution, and recently, Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), had likened the proposed ban to prohibiting spare parts trading in the north.
In a statement on Monday, Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesperson, said President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier approved the rehabilitation of grazing reserves.
With this, he said, the clashes between the farmer and herders will be addressed.
“The President had approved a number of specific measures to bring a permanent end to the frequent skirmishes as recommended by Alhaji Sabo Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture in a report he submitted and the President signed off on it back in April, well before the actions of the Southern Governors Forum which attempts to place a ban on open grazing and other acts of politicking intended by its signatories to demonstrate their power,” the statement read.
“It is very clear that there was no solution offered from their resolutions to the herder-farmer clashes that have been continuing in our country for generations.
“But the citizens of the southern states – indeed citizens of all states of Nigeria – have a right to expect their elected leaders and representatives to find answers to challenges of governance and rights, and not to wash their hands off hard choices by, instead, issuing bans that say: “not in my state.”
“It is equally true that their announcement is of questionable legality, given the Constitutional right of all Nigerians to enjoy the same rights and freedoms within every one of our 36 states (and FCT) -regardless of the state of their birth or residence.
“Fortunately, this declaration has been preempted, for whatever it is intended to achieve and Mr. President, who has rightly been worried about these problems more than any other citizen in consultation with farmers and herders alike, commissioned and approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves in the states, starting with those that are truly committed to the solution and compliant with stated requirements.
“With veterinary clinics, water points for animals, and facilities for herders and their families including schooling – through these rehabilitated reserves, the Federal Government is making far-reaching and practical changes allowing for different communities to co-exist side-by-side: supporting farmers to till their fields, herders to rear their livestock and Nigerians everywhere to be safe.”
Shehu said in spite of the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy, federal funding for the project, which had been delayed, is now being partly unlocked.
He added that the process for achieving full actualisation of the modern reserve system in consenting states should take off in June.