We didn’t have to get to this point where various state governments are now enacting the anti open grazing law in a way that appears to be antagonistic to the Fulani cattle readers, rather than as a routine legislative solution to a problem.
In 2018, I had written an open piece to the then minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, suggesting what I think should be done to stem the frequent bloody clashes between farmers and herders that have left many people dead, maimed and scarred.
First, I suggested a stakeholders conference where true representatives of farmers in the most affected states and that of herders will sit together and discuss. The FG will act as a fair arbitar. Both the farmers and herders will shift some grounds and then arrive at an amicable solution. A white paper that will be gazetted will be produced and guide both parties going forward.
I further suggested that the minister should select a contingent of herdsmen and take them on a FG sponsored excursion to ranches in Kenya, South Africa and Texas for them to see firsthand how ranches work. This will encourage them to accept ranching as an alternative to the nomadic lifestyle that is crisis prone.
As usual and for some inexplicable reasons, the minister never acted on anyone of these suggestions. Rather, he spoke about importing grass from Brazil which he never did until he was replaced.
From my observation and considering the events of recent months in which government appears hellbent in enforcing cattle routes, I don’t think the FG is truly interested in an amicable solution to this crisis. The explosion of our population and infrastructure development has made the enforcement of cattle routes almost impossible.
I have asked, if we discover today that Asorock or the Airport in Abuja used to be cattle routes in the 60s, will we demolish them to enforce the routes? The time has come for the FG to act sincerely and according to global best practices.
Open grazing of cattle is too crisis prone to be allowed to continue in this 21st century. It is not as though there are no other ways of rearing these cattle. Why we have chosen not to explore these other ways is what I don’t understand.