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President Muhammadu Buhari has resolved to find solutions to the conflicts between farmers and herders that led to the ban on open Grazing in the southern part of the country.
This was contained in a statement issued by Garba Shehu, presidential spokesperson, in a statement on Monday.
On May 11, 17 southern governors resolved to ban open grazing of cattle in their states in a meeting in Asaba, Delta State.
The resolution was taken as a perceived way to end the increasing hostilities between the farmers and herders.
They, therefore, resolved “that open grazing of cattle be banned across Southern Nigeria; noted that development and population growth has put pressure on available land and increased the prospects of conflict between migrating herders and local populations in the South. Given this scenario, it becomes imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the South (including cattle movement to the South by foot).”
According to the statement, the resolutions by the southern leaders did not proffer practicable solution to the conflict that has caused deaths and wrecked properties.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed a strong resolve to address the conflicts of herders and farmers in a sustained and lasting manner that should lead to the emergence of a permanent solution to the frequent clashes between them, as well as the associated problem of the gun-wielding ‘killer herdsmen.’, Mr Shehu said in the statement.
The statement further noted that the President had earlier approved measures to bring an end to the insurgency as advised by Sabo Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture in April.
“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.
“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.”
Despite echoing an earlier criticism of the open grazing ban by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami,, the presidency however said the southern region had its right to find answers to its unique challenges.
The statement continued, “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.”