Following the uproar that trailed the ban on open grazing in Southern states of Nigeria by all the governors of Southern Nigeria, the National Patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, (MACBAN), Senator Walid Jibrin, has thrown his support behind the governors and admitted that a ban on open grazing will help to address farmers -herders crisis in the country.
He also commended the Nigerian Governors’ Forum for placing a ban on open grazing and called on Fulani organisations to unite as one and seek new methods of doing their business.
Speaking at a press conference in Kaduna yesterday, Senator Jibrin, the Sarkin Fulani Nasarawa, said, “Most importantly, the various Fulani associations with membership up to 50 must come together and talk with one voice on this tradition of open grazing and not necessarily allow any group to come out to do it for them.” He said cattle rearing has been on in Africa for over 100 years without any consideration to free movement of cattle (open grazing) or any grazing reserve.
“This was so because at that time, there were few herders, farmers and cattle, especially in Nigeria. Today, the population of both has increased, with modern technique of farming consuming land tremendously.” He explained that with the current international concern on cattle rearing in Africa, especially Nigeria, there was need to look at how best this practice will be carried out successfully.
He said, “We must note that land in Nigeria is owned by individuals, federal, and state governments. ‘’As a full-blooded Fulani man, Sarkin Fulani, and Patron, Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), and concerned Fulani leader in Nigeria, I have a free mind on anyone recommending a ban on open grazing, free movement of herders, and cattle in Nigeria because the practice is getting outdated internationally and , therefore necessary, for Nigeria, especially the Fulani race, to study critically the traditional open grazing, believing that the 21st century may never accommodate it.
“When you look at the practice of open grazing in Nigeria, compared with what is happening internationally, Nigeria can never continue with traditional open grazing practice. In order to effect a change, Fulani elite should be bold enough to come out with alternatives to open grazing and advise the Fulanis in Nigeria accordingly.
“Federal and state governments should come to the rescue by providing grazing reserves, equipped with hospitals, nomadic schools, electricity, bore holes, cattle markets with modern slaughtering centres, open market to our Fulani women to enable them remain in one place to sell milk, instead of their house-to-house roaming about exposing our rich culture and religion. I have fully observed the feeling of many groups and individuals in Nigeria about open grazing. There is so much condemnation from Nigerian governors, Northern governors, Southern governors etc.
‘’These groups and individuals should never be condemned and must be praised for their bold comments trying to modernize and improve cattle rearing in Nigeria. Another reason we should shy away from open grazing is the way old methods of settlements of crises between herdsmen and farmers have been abandoned. The role of the traditional rulers, especially the village heads, district heads are daily being neglected by both herdsmen and farmers, leaving it in the hands of the Police, courts and other law enforcement agencies agencies.
‘’Because of poverty and lack of full education, some Fulani children are involved in some unholy acts which will surely be remedied by provision of grazing reserves. ‘May I seize this opportunity to congratulate all the governors for the bold steps they are taking to solve the menace of open grazing, kidnapping and banditry. In the South West, the recent action by the governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, is very commendable.
‘’I also commend him for shying away from the call asking all Hausas and Fulanis to leave the South West. I also condemn any call from the North that all Hausas and Fulani should leave the South West. Nigeria must remain one entity, against what is happening now. We should rely more on dialogue, and mediation with herders, Fulani leaders, traditional rulers and our governors in order to end this feud.
‘’Our traditional rulers must also be encouraged to participate in dialogue between Fulani herdsmen and farmers. For now, traditional rulers should be kept off from handling of herdsmen and farmers problems. Of course, our traditional rulers must be given a proper role in the Nigerian constitution. May I strongly advise that the federal and state governments should assist tremendously in providing inputs into the recommended grazing reserve land in all the states of the federation and they should continue to be herdsmen/farmer’ friendly.
“In order to discourage open grazing, the federal government should stop the entry of cattle to Nigeria from ECOWAS countries by amending the Article 3 of ECOWAS Protocol, especially referring to free movement of cattle and other livestock without any special undertaking. “I strongly appeal to the federal and state governments to maintain all existing grazing reserves by providing special amenities mentioned in my earlier suggestions. It is also necessary that government uses the services of the World Bank to archive all plans that will come out of well modernized grazing reserves in Nigeria.’’