Herders/Farmers clashes: NNPP rejects cattle colony, roots for ranching

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Following recent moves by the federal government to establish cattle colony in each of the 36 states of the federation, the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) has called on the federal government to jettison the idea and embrace ranching as a global best practice in cattle rearing.

The National Chairman of the Party, Chief Dr. Boniface Aniebonam who made this call in an interview with Primetime Reporters in Lagos Friday said that cattle colony should not be considered as part of the solution towards ending incessant clashes between herders and farmers.

According to him,” We don’t talk about colony, colony does not come into play at all, it doesn’t have any place. Colony is talking about a kind of occupation, it is not to be mentioned, nobody should talk about that”.

He however advised President Muhammadu Buhari against giving priority attention to the cattle as against other livestock as according to him, cattle rearing should be a private concern of those who engage in it as business.

“And in any case, there is no reason for unnecessary priority for the cattle because there are other animals, it is about animal husbandry and there are other livestock and what have you, so they should not be treated separately as if there is something particular about that. It should be treated equally like others; there is no need for any priority”, he cautioned.

Aniebonam posited that if government is sincere in ending the perennial crisis between herders and farmers, it should consider ranching as a way to go as such practices had been in existence in the country even before now.

He said,” And to solve this problem, it has to do with ranching. Before this time, we have the Obudu Cattle Ranch, ranching is not new in Nigeria. In the southwest, there are some of these places that were classified as ranches, so what have happened to them? So, we need to look at some of these things but what makes us human beings is the extent we are reactive to our environment as human beings as things continue to change”.

On the recent killings in Benue State and parts of the country by the Fulani herdsmen, the National Chairman described the incident as nasty even as he observed that “It is constitutional that a responsible government in line with its constitutional duty as enshrined in the constitution is in-charge of the general welfare of the people, protection of lives and properties and if these things are not working out, then something is wrong somewhere”.

He continued,” But this is not the time to blame anybody but it is to raise issues so that those in authority will do better because nobody has a repository of knowledge or claims to know all. For instance, as far am concerned, we are looking at it from the specifics, the ECOWAS treaty in terms of free movement, these cattle rearers and herdsmen, are we really convinced that they are really the herdsmen that we used to know before and after the war that were so friendly? I remember some of them, I used to see them before the war and after the war, they come and beg for water and you give them water. They were so friendly, so what has happened?

“So, we need to open our scope and look at the territorial boundaries of Nigeria which we all know are porous, then look at the activities of the Boko Haram, therefore, there is now time for us to control the movement of these cattle. The population has continued to increase and the demand for cattle meat is also increasing and so, the market is becoming larger. If that is the case, how do we know? Are we in the position to profile the number of cattle that are coming into the country for grazing?

“So, that call for government attention and of course, that should be treated through ECOWAS treaty in terms of free movement. You need to redefine it so that it will not affect our own sovereignty. You need to look at that, these cattle that are coming in, who has them and for what purpose? And in any case, if these cattle are migrating into Nigeria, those who move on with these particular animals are they carrying their foods? The answer is no. Are they carrying their water? The answer is no and those cattle must eat and of course, they are in thousands. So, the destruction is eminent and of course, where your liberty stops is where the other person’s own starts. So they need to do something more to that”.

Asked if restructuring has anything to offer in this case, the NNPP boss stated,” Definitely, it is part of the solution, it is even very emphatic. You see we have to live together and if we have to live together, we must see that as an ideal way to go”.

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