Monday, May 2, 2016 1:36 pm
Baba Othman Ngelzarma, the National Secretary, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, otherwise known as Fulani herdsmen has blamed past governments for the problem between the Fulani pastoralists and farmers. He said this during an interview on Channels TV.
He argued that these clashes came as a result of the absence of developed grazing reserves and the protection of those reserves. These, according to him, are areas that have suffered a lot of neglect because the pastoralists’ livelihood has been frequently undermined by unfriendly policies and laws.
In his words: “The policies of the past administrations have given more attention to agronomy and not the livestock sub-sector. That is what has caused this problem. This is a consequence of the neglect of this long-term sector of the economy. We have about three million hectares which have been destroyed. They are mostly located in the northern and the south-western parts of the country. These are all the states of the North, as well as Oyo and Ogun states. If past administrations had done their work like the immediate post-colonial administrations did, we wouldn’t be in this situation that we have found ourselves today. May be the reserves would have been developed to an extent that we won’t have these issues.
“ If you look at the Fulani man, the cattle business is his livelihood, so you then wonder why he would be pushed to the southern part of the country in search of grass and water because, if grass and water were provided in the reserves in the North, I do not think the herdsman would have the desire to go anywhere and expose himself to danger because he always moves with his family. He provides security for his family and security for his business, so how do you expect , no matter how illiterate he is, to go and ignite trouble for himself to get killed. I think some people somewhere are out to profile the Fulani herdsmen as terrorists.”
He explained that the law governing the establishment of grazing reserves is not new, it started in 1965. Later in 1978, the Land Use Act was extended to cover it.
The Fulani leader explained further: “In 1988, National Agriculture Policy also earmarked 10 per cent of the total national territory for grazing areas – that is, 9.8million hectares of land were earmarked in 1988 for grazing reserves. That figure was later increased to 20 million hectares.
“What we have today is less than three million hectares – the so-called gazetted grazing areas cover only about three million. We have about 415 grazing areas and grazing reserves and forest reserves because these are different things. The grazing reserves are those that are gazetted. Out of the 415, 141 were gazetted. And those 141 reserves gazetted cover
only about three million hectares of land. And even that one today has been damaged by ecology, encroachment and the rest.”
However, the Fulani leader admitted that there are criminal elements among his people, just like among other tribes. Read the full interview next.