As public outcry against wanton killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen across the country continues to mount, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has stated that government is to blame for the carnage.
He noted that government had in the past assisted farmers in different ways but neglected the herdsmen.
According to him, it is this negligence that should be blamed for herdsmen killings.
Ogbeh who stated this on Monday, said that the Federal Government is going to establish cattle colonies for the rampaging herdsmen, as a measure to solve the continued herdsmen/farmers conflict that usually results in loss of lives.
Attacks by suspected herdsmen in Benue and Kaduna states since the New Year, had led to the death of over 50 persons.
But speaking during a two day ‘2018 Strategy Retreat’ put together by Synergos for special advisers and directors in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in Abuja, Ogbeh promised that the move to establish cattle colonies for herdsmen will solve the needless killings as a result of the clashes.
The minister said that facilities will be provided to take care of the herdsmen and their cattle, whom according to him, have said if water and grass were provided they (herdsmen) would not be moving with their cattle.
He added that the cattle colony project will start immediately following the offer of five hectares of land each by 16 states in the country.
“On the issue of cattle, we have to start immediately, 16 states have given us land to work on. The programme is not going to be cheap. Mr. President has personally informed me that if we seek help from him he will give it to us over and above the budget we have, and when that budget is released I plead with all of you to come on board to work hard to achieve results.
“We are talking of cattle colonies not ranches so to speak, where we will provide water, grass, training for herdsmen, cattle breeding and insemination.
“We have to deal with an urgent problem, cattle rearing and the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen, and actually bring it to a halt. I know that some people argue that the culture of open grazing is our culture, but when a culture begins to develop dangerous trends leading to warfare between people and bloody clashes and death that culture is due for re-examination; if it is harmful we reform it.
“Nigerians are getting extremely uncomfortable with these killings and we may make political statements and issue palliatives and ask the police and army to go after killers. Let us do our own duty by eliminating the conflict by creating cattle colonies,” Ogbeh said.
The minister had also on Monday, during a meeting called at the instance of the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, and attended by the governors of Kaduna, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa and Taraba states over the violent attacks and herdsmen killings in their states, also spoke on government’s move to establish cattle colonies.
He said in his address that the cattle colony will be set up on 5,000 hectares where herdsmen could live and keep their livestock, adding that security would also be provided for the colony by Agro-rangers.
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