Ranching, solution to Fulani herdsmen conundrum


The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), did well by ranching his cows. He should have used himself to preach the gospel of ranching now that he’s the President of the country, but he failed woefully to do that. Most of the cows are owned by very rich people, Fulani and non-Fulani, so why can’t they ranch like Buhari and few other cattle merchants?

A popular Yoruba fuji artiste, K1, was recently shown on an online TV conducting his guests round his cattle ranch in Ijebu Ode. He didn’t give his cattle to some underage Fulani herders to rear in the forest of Ijebu Igbo, Area J4 forest reserve or to be grazing on people’s farms in Ijebu Imushin, Ilese, trekking down to Igbo Lisabi in Abeokuta en route Ibadan. Why can’t the rich cattle owners start to ranch their cows just like poultry, goat, fish and piggery farmers pen their livestock?

Rather, the Buhari regime is talking of grazing routes across Nigeria that had been blocked due to development, hence, tactically supporting indiscriminate open grazing by cattle anywhere including  people’s farms. This has been the main cause of herder-farmer clashes that preceded his regime but which have now been aggravated by his regime’s “Fulani herder-centric” statements, policies and body language.

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Talking about grazing routes in the 21 century is an absurdity when there are even laws in some states banning street fowls, dogs, goats let alone cows.

The day the Minister of Defence asked in the heat of the Benue massacre, after a security meeting chaired by President Buhari what the people wanted herders to do when the grazing routes across Nigeria had been blocked due to development, was the day official stamp was given to indiscriminate grazing by nomadic Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria and in the West Africa sub-region. These herdsmen migrate and exit freely into the country without any documentation. Sadly, the President didn’t sack his minister or rebuke him for making such an insensitive and inflammable statement in a multi-ethnic country, more so, by a regime that has been accused of provincialism and nepotism.

This official seal was later reconfirmed by the irresponsible and insensitive “your ancestral land for grazing or your life” infamous statement of Femi Adesina, Buhari’s spokesman, live on Channels TV. Garba Shehu’s recent statement to counter the directive of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu for herders to leave Ondo State forest reserves, thereby inciting Fulani herdsmen not to leave the forests is part of the regime’s indulgence of Fulani herdsmen’s indiscriminate grazing with the attendant crime committed by some of these herdsmen that are traced to the government forest reserves and other forests.

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Well, the Federal Government came up with its RUGA and later cattle colony as a way out. Perhaps, this could have been embraced by other ethnic nationalities and states, particularly in the South, but for the antecedents of the regime, its undue favouritism of the Fulani herdsmen, its indulgence and the fear of losing their ancestral lands to Fulani domination. But that should not have prevented the regime from starting the RUGA or cattle colony in the northern states that are eagerly receptive to the idea to serve as a model for other “doubting Thomas” states and ethnic nationalities to see the good intention as explained by the regime and possibly embrace it later.

That is the best approach to introduce a new project when faced with suspicion or rejection like RUGA. Don’t they have a team of qualified agricultural extension and rural sociologists, public psychologists, perceptive conflict analysts and other relevant experts that can boldly advise government on the stages of adoption of projects like RUGA? You don’t surround yourself with overzealous elements that will always interpret people’s rejection, disagreement and appraisal of government projects on the basis of hatred or love, wailers or hailers. Romance is never a word in governance but performance.

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Governor Umar Ganduje once declared that Kano State has enough land and resources for cattle rearing and promised that his government would build ranches that could accommodate over one million herders. What happened after his declaration since then? “Ju le Lasan” (drop and go) style of governance and electoral promises?

We need a multifaceted approach in resolving this perennial environmental and socio-economic problem of open indiscriminate grazing leading to farmer-herder clashes, heightening forest-based crime rates, health hazard and ethnic suspicion. Definitely, insisting on open grazing by cows cannot and will not be a solution but a Pandora’s box.

  • Mr Adeola Soetan, Ijaiye, Lagos



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