FULANI cattle herdsmen operating across southern Nigeria have been asked by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) to relocate their livestock assets to the north of the country in response to the recent Asaba declaration.
Last week, the Southern Governors Forum met in the Delta State capital Asaba where it passed a resolution banning open grazing across the south of Nigeria. In addition, the governors also called for the restructuring of the country and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to address the growing insecurity across the nation.
Hailed as the first step in the search for a panacea to the spate of violence, ethnic mistrust, banditry, kidnapping, terrorism, rape and mayhem griping the country, Asaba Declaration is seen by many as a way of bringing peace back to Nigeria. However, the CNG said the document unfairly profiled the entire business community of herders as the sole cause of the bulk of Nigeria’s security challenges.
It accused the governors of deliberately leaving out the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Eastern Security Network among others, in identifying causes of security challenges in their domains.
CNG spokesman, Abdulazeez Suleiman, added that the southern governors neglected to acknowledge that just as development and population growth had put pressure on available land and increased the prospects of conflict between migrating herders and local populations, so also had the mass movement of millions of people from the south into the vast interior of the north. It also accused the southern governors of failing to attribute the current national woes to the regime of the ruling All Progressives Congress led by the President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr Suleiman said: “Against the backdrop of these observations, on grazing ban, the CNG emphatically repudiates the vilification and targeting of the entire pastoral community for vilification, systematic dehumanisation, profiling, alienation or any action that will render them objects of attack and persecution. The CNG categorically calls on all pastoralists and by extension, all northerners living as minorities in the south, whose lives and livelihoods stand threatened by this regime of hostile and damaging policies to be ratified by the southern governors, to immediately relocate with their livestock assets to the north.
“We demand absolute guarantee of protecting the lives and property of the pastoral communities as they relocate to the north, by ensuring their movement is not impeded by any legislation or obstacle imposed by a state or a community in the south. We demand the federal and northern states governments immediately identify suitable lands across the region and create grazing reserves and cattle routes through resort to extant provisions of the Land Use Act and other related laws.”