ABUJA —THE Fulani in Nigeria have said they will not accept cattle
ranching because the country’s geographical location was not suitable
for it.

Besides, the Fulani said the species of cows they had, as subsistence
livestock farmers, were not good for ranching in the country, saying
they could only be confined to ranching if their livestock were
replaced with breeds suitable for it.

This was even as they said the anti open grazing laws being
established by some state governments would die a natural death like
‘political sharia law’ in Zamfara.

According to them, the laws are being used as campaigns by some people
to win votes in 2019 elections.

Addressing newsmen, yesterday, in Abuja, through their socio-cultural
association under the aegis of Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore, the Fulani
insisted that events in history showed that ranching was not
practicable in Nigeria and to this end, urged the Federal Government
to immediately stop state governments from enacting anti open grazing

National Secretary of Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore, Saleh Alhassan, who
read the association’s prepared speech to newsmen at the event, called
on the Federal Government to stop state governments, especially Benue
and Taraba states, from going ahead with implementing the laws.

He said: “The whole experiment of ranching in Nigeria is a total
failure, you can google it, it’s there on the Internet for everyone to

“ Right from the 70s, the old Gongola State had experimented ranching,
the same with Kaduna State and even the old Plateau State.

All the ranches collapsed because the geographical location of this
country is not suitable for ranching.

“In places where there are successful ranching in the world, the
volume of rain per annum in those areas is at least four to seven
months, that’s why you have grasses that can naturally be sustained.

“At the same time, you must have the necessary breeds that will
support even ranching. The current breeds we have in this country
cannot be supported by ranching.

“Anywhere you keep these volume of cows we have now, for two weeks,
they will eat out everything and you will have ecological disaster,
“he said.

Alhassan said the purpose of the briefing, coming barely a week after
the previous one, was to further reassert the position of the Fulani
on the anti grazing laws enacted by some state governors and their
opposition to it.

He said:  “ We view the anti grazing law as an agenda to destroy our
means of livelihood by vision less and desperate politicians.

“Anti grazing laws are nothing but populist agenda designed by vision
less and desperate politicians to destroy our means of livelihood.

“This dangerous gambit must be nib in the bud by the Federal
government through the security agencies as it portends great danger
to the cooperate existence of the country.

“These laws are oppressive and negative and are fundamentally against
our culture as Fulani pastoralists, against our economic interest and
against the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“ It is important to note that interstate movement of pastoralists is
similar to interstate commerce and it is only the National Assembly
that can legislate on that aspect as captured in item 62 of the
exclusive legislative list.

So no state governor can decide to stop movement of pastoralists
because that is their own form of commerce. So, they have gone against
the constitution.

“The laws do not take into cognisance our sociology, our economic
interest, our production patterns, climate variations and factors that
pushed pastoralists into these migrations. These migrations are not
picnics, they are detected by ecological needs.

“It is a common knowledge that the primitive form of agriculture
practiced in Benue and Taraba states and indeed all over the country,
is not consonant with global best practices.

“ So why singling out the pastoralists and insist that they must ranch
which is the global best practice? That’s out argument.

“If the whole agricultural policy, the whole development of
agriculture in Nigeria is still at this primitive stage, you cannot
single out the herders who are also farmers that they must practice
global best practice, it’s not possible.

Alhassan insisted that Benue State government breached the
constitution by stopping open grazing, given that the River Benue
Basin, its tributaries and lakes were under the control of the Federal

“Again, very fundamentally, the River Benue and the tributaries and
also the international routes and roads that pass through Benue don’t
belong to Benue State Government, they belong to the Federal

Benue State Government has no jurisdiction over River Benue, its
tributaries, the lakes, the river basins, they are all Federal
government’s. So how do you now start to legislate to say ‘you are
going to stop access to those natural resources?’

“Between January and and early May, is when pastoralists move to the
river basins because that is the peak of dry season and most of the
rivers pastoralists use to water their animals dried up and they now
move towards the River Benue.

“So designing a policy that will exclude the herders completely is
wrong and injustice, what they should have done is to have restricted
areas for the herders and then give them access to grazing corridors
and watering points during those peak periods of dry season.

“As cultivation comes up during the rainy season, these people
naturally migrate northwest. So, it’s detected by climatic changes.
That’s why we are saying it’s not possible, the law will not work
because it’s not well thought out. Think twice.

“Then for you to create a ranch, the environmental impact assessment
must be done on the areas earmarked for the ranch, and it must not
take a minimum of two to three seasons.

That’s to say you must do studies during the wet season, do studies
during the dry season and then repeat it so that you compare before
you can say this place is suitable for a ranch.

“So ranch is technologically driven, it’s capital intensive and it’s
not pregnant for this kind of subsistence farmers we have, the
livestock farmers are subsistence farmers. It’s just like saying
nobody will cultivate his land if he doesn’t own a tractor, so how
many people will go to farm?

“ So, it’s not that we don’t want to respect law and order but when
you make an impossible laws, then you are not creating peace. You’re
only creating conflicts.

You are either deliberately attempting to provoke conflict for either
political reasons or you are being hoodwinked and deceived by
desperate political advisers just probably because they want to get
money out of you, they make you create laws that will create conflict.

The Miyetti-Allah Kautal Hore scribe continued:” In particular, the
Benue Valley which has been causing problem in land resources, we have
issue of population and nature and pattern of settlement. It’s not
just the herders that can be blamed for it.

“If you look at it typically, the Tiv people have the culture of
nomadic farming, if they farm this year here, the next year they move
to another location and their culture of reproduction is such a manner
that it has made useless of land tenure system.

“ There’s no Tiv farmer that will tell you that ‘we have a family
land’ because of the fragmentation of the land, because of the number
of children they have, they cannot inherit any parcel of land.

So they now straddle along communities in the Benue Valley and
neighbouring states’ lands belonging to other communities and fallow
lands that pastoralists use for grazing, they will cultivate them in a
very extensive primitive manner, occupying large hectares of land.

“If they cultivate here this year, the next year, they move to other
places. That is why they have problem in Nasarawa border communities
and they have problem in Taraba border communities.

All those areas are extensively being cultivated, there is no
mechanization any where, and there’s no modern farming. So, with the
pressure on the land resource, if you want to address it, you cannot
just single out the herders and say ‘they must be kept in one place
without making any provisions for them, It’s injustice.

According to him, the anti open grazing laws were being targeted at
Fulanis and their livestock.

“And these laws, if you look at them, they are targeted at the
pastoralists because one you have not provided any space for them and
you ask them to go and buy land to create ranches when the context of
the law you created, you have already poisoned the minds of the people
that own the land, that you are creating this law because of the
crisis that is in place. So, who will allow anybody to have access to
the land?

“So our point is that, if the government is serious, they should make
land available to us after all, the Land Use Act vests lands in the
hands of state governors. So they should give us land so that we can
practice our occupation

He said contrary to beliefs in some quarters land trespass has been
the source of Fulani and farmers crisis in Benue, it was rather cattle
rustling, youth unemployment and what he called rural banditry,
wondering why there was pending cases of land trespass in any law
court in the state.

“I challenge the Benue State Government to tell us how many court
cases that have to do with trespass on land are before the courts in
Benue? Or is it that they don’t have faith in the judiciary that they
don’t take cases there?

“So, it’s not a question of trespass on land, that’s just the truth. I
want people to understand that these conflicts we are having year in
and year out, the major drivers are not on trespass on land. Rather,
the drivers are cattle rustling, rural banditry, youth unemployment
and desperate politicians that want to create crisis so they can
sustain themselves in power, “he added.


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