Unlike his counterparts in the southern part of Nigeria, Governor Yahaya Bello has said Kogi State will not ban open grazing until it has made provision for ranching.
Earlier in the week, the governors of the 17 southern states met in Delta State and agreed to end open grazing, to check farmer-herder clashes and other security threats.
“(We) affirmed that the peoples of Southern Nigeria remain committed to the unity of Nigeria on the basis of justice, fairness, equity and oneness and peaceful co-existence between and among its peoples with a focus on the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity;
ii) observed that the incursion of armed herders, criminals and bandits into the Southern part of the country has presented a severe security challenge such that citizens are not able to live their normal lives including pursuing various productive activities leading to a threat to food supply and general security. Consequently, the meeting resolved that open grazing of cattle be banned across Southern Nigeria,” the communique detailing their resolutions read.
But the governor, in an interview with Channels TV, Friday evening, said he holds a different view on the issue.
“I have not banned grazing because there’s no provision for ranching yet. There is no provision for ranching. Should I send away millions of Fulani people that are living their normal lives, that have been living with us peacefully over the years? Should I send them away?”
Mr Bello said he has instead, integrated the herders by ensuring that their conflict with farmers does not exist.
“I inherited a problem in Kogi and have solved it with the cooperation of my traditional rulers, with the youths, women, with farmers and even Fulanis themselves.
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“We know that the land is no longer enough but we can accommodate each other within the limited that we have. We can’t just send them out. A lot of the Fulanis have been driven from the south.
“I am not in any way criticising those who enacted the law banning open grazing. Of course, open grazing is outdated, is archaic but we met a system that has failed. We must be able to manage it in such a way or to the extent that we will be able to come up with ranching.”
Mr Bello said cattle-rearing is a business done by many people including people who are not of Fulani extraction.
“There are several other non-Fulani that are rearing cattle. Majority of these our leaders have millions of cattle taken care of by Fulanis, by non-Fulanis alike. So we should I just heap it on Fulanis?
“So, what we did in Kogi was to accommodate them. We accommodate them in our governance system from local to the state level, in our community level. We accommodated them in every decision we’re going to make.”