HERDSMEN umbrella body the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban) has backed the recent declaration by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) calling for a ban on open grazing across the country.
Over recent years, Nigeria has been plagued by bloody clashes between nomadic herdsmen and farming communities with heavily-armed Fulani pastoralists carrying AK-47s carrying out murderous raids on rural communities. In response to the killings, the Southern Governors Forum banned open grazing across its states and yesterday, the NGF agreed with the ban at a virtual meeting it held.
Supporting the governors’ call, Senator Walid Jibrin, the Macban national patron said a ban on open grazing will help to address farmers-herders crisis in the country. Senator Jibrin, the Sarkin Fulani Nasarawa, therefore commended the NGF and called on Fulani organisations with a membership of up to 50 to come together and talk with one voice on this tradition of open grazing and not allow any group to come out to do it for them.
According to Senator Jibrin, cattle rearing has been on in Africa for over 100 years without any consideration to any grazing reserve. He added that this was so because at that time, there were few herders, farmers and cattle, especially in Nigeria bit today, the population of both has increased, with modern farming techniques consuming land, thus making it necessary to adjust to the new realities.
Senator Jibrin said:“We must note that land in Nigeria is owned by individuals, federal and state governments. As a full-blooded Fulani man, Sarkin Fulani, Macban patron and concerned Fulani leader in Nigeria, I have a free mind on anyone recommending a ban on open grazing, free movement of herders and cattle because the practice is getting outdated internationally.
“It is and therefore necessary for Nigeria, especially the Fulani race, to study critically the traditional open grazing, believing that the 21st century may never accommodate it. When you look at the practice of open grazing in Nigeria, compared with what is happening internationally, Nigeria can never continue with traditional open grazing practice.
“In order to effect a change, the Fulani elite should be bold enough to come out with alternatives to open grazing and advise the Fulanis in Nigeria accordingly. Federal and state governments should come to the rescue by providing grazing reserves, equipped with hospitals, nomadic schools, electricity, bore holes, cattle markets with modern slaughtering centres, open market to our Fulani women to enable them remain in one place to sell milk, instead of their house-to-house roaming about exposing our rich culture and religion.”
“I have fully observed the feeling of many groups and individuals in Nigeria about open grazing. There is so much condemnation from Nigerian governors but these groups and individuals should never be condemned and must be praised for their bold comments trying to modernise and improve cattle rearing in Nigeria.”