By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Friday in Abuja appealed to cattle herders and farmers throughout the country to accommodate and tolerate one another, saying his administration was working towards finding a lasting solution to herders’ violence.
The President, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, made the promise when leaders of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), who had earlier endorsed him, paid him a courtesy visit in the State House.
According to the statement, the president appealed for calm among all citizens, saying his government would give equal respect to all citizens irrespective of their ethnic, religious and geopolitical backgrounds.
He quoted him as saying, “I appeal to all farmers and herders for restraint, mutual respect and tolerance for one another as people destined to live together in this great country. I appeal for patience and understanding as the administration works towards lasting solutions to these conflicts.”
The statement also said the president urged the herders to support him in the task of bringing lasting peace to the country and simultaneously called on state governors to work with the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, whom he said had been mandated to work out a solution to the conflicts.
According to the statement, the president had mandated Ogbeh to work out solutions to the crises in collaboration with the states in a way that herders will have access to water for their livestock and on the other hand, security guaranteed for farmers against the destruction of their farmlands.
Shehu also said Buhari attributed part of the conflict between the two groups to the climate change phenomenon and population explosion, alleging that its politicisation by selfish individuals whom he said did not mean well for the country aggravated the matter.
He also said the president emphasised that the conflict was neither religious nor ethnic, but had rather been earlier foreseen and warned against by his administration.
“Before the Benue and Taraba crises, I called the Minister of Agriculture and the Governor of Central Bank and asked them to work with the state governors on rediscovering the gazetted cattle routes, clear of farmlands that had made for peace during the First Republic,” he was further quoted.
Shehu added that Buhari expressed strong confidence that solution would be found to the crises with the assurance that the government was working with the states which he said had an important role to play in resolving the crisis.
“Whatever it will take, I am determined to bring peace between farmers and herders. I urge you all to be patient and exercise restraint while we are working for an enduring solution,” Buhari was said to have emphasised..
The statement added: “MACBAN, led by Alhaji Mohammed Kiruwa, informed the President that the 20-million strong body had sent the delegation to endorse his bid for a second term of office on account of the administration’s achievements in office which included, the successful clampdown on kidnapping and cattle rustling; and the fight against terrorism and corrupt elements in the society.
“Alhaji Kiruwa said President Buhari’s personal qualities of honesty, integrity and his unparalleled commitment to the unity and progress of the nation, also informed his association’s support for a renewal of his tenure.”