The Presidency has faulted the recent ban on open grazing in the entire southern part of the country and other resolutions of the Southern Governors following the outcome of their meeting which held recently in Asaba Delta State.
In a statement on Monday, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, believes the Governors have failed to provide any solution to the lingering crisis between farmers and herders in the country.
“It is very clear that there was no solution offered from their (the Governors’) resolutions to the herder-farmer clashes that have been continuing in our country for generations,” he said.
Shehu added, “But the citizens of the Southern States – indeed citizens of all States of Nigeria – have a right to expect their elected leaders and representatives to find answers to challenges of governance and rights, and not to wash their hands off hard choices by, instead, issuing bans that say: “not in my State”.
State Governors in the South had resolved to ban open grazing and movement of cattle by foot in the region following a meeting held on May 11 in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
They had called for the restructuring of the country along with fiscal federalism, devolution of powers, and state policing, as well as asked President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a national dialogue to address the agitations by various groups in the region.
Reacting to the series of calls made by the Governors, Shehu explained that the President has expressed a strong resolve to address the conflicts of herders and farmers in a sustained and lasting manner.
He was hopeful that this would lead to the emergence of a permanent solution to the frequent clashes between both parties, as well as the associated problem of the gun-wielding killer herdsmen.
The President’s spokesman noted that his principal had approved a number of specific measures to bring a permanent end to the frequent skirmishes as recommended by the Minister of Agriculture, Sabo Nanono, in a report he submitted.
He stated that President Buhari signed off on the report in April, accusing the Southern Governors of acts of politicking intended to demonstrate their power by banning open grazing in their various States.
According to Shehu, the ban on open grazing is of questionable legality, given the constitutional right of all Nigerians to enjoy the same rights and freedoms within every one of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – regardless of the State of their birth or residence.
“Fortunately, this declaration has been pre-empted, for whatever it is intended to achieve, and Mr President, who has rightly been worried about these problems more than any other citizen in consultation with farmers and herders alike, commissioned and approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves in the States, starting with those that are truly committed to the solution and compliant with stated requirements.
“With veterinary clinics, water points for animals, and facilities for herders and their families, including schooling – through these rehabilitated reserves, the Federal Government is making far-reaching and practical changes allowing for different communities to co-exist side-by-side: supporting farmers to till their fields, herders to rear their livestock, and Nigerians everywhere to be safe,” he said.
The presidential spokesman said the entire country was aware of the strain the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on public finances – for both Federal and States.
He, however, noted that the federal funding for the project that has been delayed was being partly unlocked and actual work for the full actualization of the modern reserve system in a few of the consenting States would take off in June.