It is time to modernise the way we rear cattle in the country

We commend the recent meeting between Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) to find a lasting solution to the incessant killings, kidnappings and crisis between herdsmen and farmers in South-west region. The parley followed the seven-day ultimatum issued by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to unregistered Fulani herdsmen to vacate Ondo State’s forest reserve and cease the movement of cattle along the highways and within the cities.

The NGF and MACBAN should also be lauded for the agreement to outlaw open grazing, underage grazing, and night herding in the South-west states, given the rate at which some undesirable elements who parade themselves as herders commit heinous crimes. These criminals hide in bushes and make travelling perilous for road users. In a recent editorial, the Financial Times of London, warned that Nigeria is edging dangerously towards becoming a failed state given the frightening scale of banditry, kidnapping and poor governance.

Due to the incessant nature of these communal conflicts, many communities across the country are self-arming either to protect themselves or for reprisal attacks as bloody battles for supremacy and for the control of land become increasingly alarming. Invariably, this pattern, along with limited access leads to conflict with the farmers and often results in the destruction of crops and cattle rustling by both parties. It is therefore time to modernise the way we rear cattle in our country. And the only way to go about this is by investing in ranching or creating a cattle colony, instead of carrying out a primitive pattern that is no longer in vogue in many countries that boast more stock of cattle than us. The sight of cows struggling for space with commuters every day on our roads while also straying into neigbourhood is irritating and only sums up our poor attitude to good governance.

Going forward, all relevant stakeholders must come together to find an acceptable formula to deal with the challenge. States/federal government, legislatures, traditional rulers, civil society organisations, security agencies and communities need to frontally tackle these deadly and criminal conflicts which threaten the fragile peace in the nation. But the way to tackle this is for government to address the underlying causes of banditry, killing, and kidnapping for ransom, which has become the order of the day and is compounding the state of security in the country.

As we keep reiterating, one of the curious tragedies of modern Nigeria is that we have come to accept the category ‘nomadic’ as a permanent description of a vital segment of our populace. We have gone ahead to create schools, map out grazing trails and sundry other things to enshrine this unfortunate doctrine. A consequence has been the ever frequent bloody clashes between nomads and settled landowners and farmers in nearly every part of the country. Besides, by allowing them to roam the length and breadth of the country, often herding evacuated cattle, we violate the rights of these animals and endanger the health of citizens through exposure to the elements and a cocktail of diseases.

To the extent that farming is becoming a hazardous profession at a time the nation needs to embrace agriculture not only for food security but also to take many of our young people away from the streets, the authorities cannot continue to look the other way or act in a manner that suggests they have taken sides. The solution to the frequent clashes between the farmers and herdsmen is ranching. The authorities, both in Abuja and the states concerned, must therefore begin to fashion long-term solutions to the challenge that is generating violence in several theatres at enormous cost to the nation.