By Hassana Yakubu
Chief Audu Ogbe, the Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), has said stopping herders from West African countries from entering Nigeria as advocated by Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje is one of the ways that open grazing can be stopped in the country.
The ACF chairman said in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Kaduna, that the suggestion by Kano State Governor would help to contain open grazing and farmer/herder conflicts.
He Nigeria should seek an amendment to Article 3 of the ECOWAS protocol, “especially as regards free movement of cattle and other livestock without special permit.
” If it is done, we have over five million hectares of land in old grazing reserves left, enough to accommodate over 40 million cows if well grassed and watered.”
He also urged Northern States Governors to look at the viability of those spaces to develop ranches for lease to Nigerian herders, so that the matter of open grazing can be brought to an end.
“Thereafter, any herders found roaming can be penalised and our ECOWAS neighbours can find ways to deal with their own issues the way they deem fit.”
The forum chairman advised Nigeria to seek support from Africa Development Bank, the World Bank, European Union, Kuwait Fund or any source willing to support the initiative.
Ogbe maintained that hurling abuses, suspicion and threats as currently trending, “will only produce grief and disaster.”
He agreed that nobody would accept the attitude of herdsmen who trespass into farms with their cattle, eat up the crops and rape or kill any one raising objections.
Ogbe said governors should not think that merely banning open grazing would end the crisis, as the bulk of the violent herders were from neighboring countries, who have no regards to boundaries, whether State or regional.
He added those were the herdsmen that must be stopped.