The pronouncement of President Muhammadu Buhari that Government will exhume the first republic gazette that mapped out cattle routes everywhere in the country to enable herders have access to them with their cattle during an interview with Arise TV. has continued to attract comments from all shades of opinions in the country as many have criticized the president for making such statement in view of the security challenge in the country. The president’s standpoint on the issue of herders in the country which has caused so much disaffection is not unconnected with the position of the Attorney- General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who saw everything wrong on the ban on open grazing by the 17 Southern Governors after they rose from what is known today as the “Asaba declaration”.
Those who vehemently opposed the president hinged their argument on the continued heightened tension in the country, which the herders, many alleged, are responsible for the killings across the country of innocent people in their farms for challenging the intruders who go about with their animals destroying farm crops. For many also, the worsened insecurity in the country is as a result of herders and farmers clash and unfortunately, the former who appear as the aggressors roam freely and are treated as sacred cows by the government of the day. It is regrettable that President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the father of the nation is talking about the grazing routes in the 21st century when other countries with more numbers of cattle manage theirs, through proper ranching which many Nigerians have also advocated for since the security challenge, occasioned by herders, farmers clash in Nigeria. Many prominent Nigerians, including lawyers who spoke on Television and over the Radio held the view that the Land Use Act of 1978 which gave power to the state governors to control the land in their states indeed defeats every argument the president and the Attorney-General may wish to put up in their quest to revamp the 1963 grazing routes.
The continued interest of government on the issue of cattle since this regime came on stream for many Nigerians is a ploy by the President Buhari administration to promote and install the Fulani hegemony on other tribes in Nigeria, otherwise a listening government would be seen to retrace its step over unpopular policy that is anti-people like this one that concerns cattle in this modern time. The move to say the least, clearly shows that the government is insensitive to the challenges of the farmers who often times fall prey to the Ak-47 wielding killer herdsmen that have taken over all the bushes of the land. The stance of Mr. President on all these smirks of ethnic agenda as the president has made all Nigerians to realize, especially on this issue of herders, who suddenly sprang up like never before in the life of this administration in all intent have narrowed the pursuit of our collective national interest to mere ethnic agenda.
We expressly view the government plan to re-introduce the cattle routes as an aberration and blatant challenge against the 1999 constitution as amended, which gives authority to the governors on land matters in their respective states. Again, anyone who is in support of the current move by government to pursue the introduction of 1963 grazing routes, already overtaken by events is simply saying that the unwarranted killings of farmers by the herdsmen across the country should continue, which of course would spell doom for the country. Since government is very interested in cattle business even though it’s private driven, efforts should be directed to encouraging cattle breeders to embrace modern way of animal husbandry which is ranching, being the best and most acceptable method anywhere in the world.
Ranching as it is practiced in the advanced world from what we know is the best form of cattle husbandry because it offers wide range of opportunities without destroying or encroaching on other people’s livelihood. The problems between the herders and farmers in the country, is now a daily issue and when it happens, blood of the innocent people are wasted just like that. The Southern Kaduna and Jos at various times had recorded these orgies of killings as all of these were well reported. The criticisms that trail the 1963 grazing route gazette immediately as was pronounced by the president, Muhammadu Buhari in many ways show how vehemently the Nigeria people are against this policy. The government therefore should tread with caution, especially now that everyone talks about the deep divisions in the society. We therefore call on the federal government to jettison the idea of exhuming an absolete practice already thrown into the dustbin of history