Chairman, Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Ango Abdullahi, says those advocating for ranching as the solution to herdsmen-farmers clashes were merely doing so for political reasons as the idea had been tried in the past and proven unsuccessful.
Abdullahi said this in an interview with The Sun.
He said politicians pushing for creation of cattle ranches as a solution to the clashes between farmers and herdsmen were doing so to garner votes in 2019.
Abdullahi described the proposal of ranches as “irresponsible and deceptive”, while urging politicians in support of it to show models of ranching in their states within a year.
He said the northern government had tried grazing reserves and model ranching schemes in the past to no avail.
“If they had forgotten their history, they should go and read their history books particularly on ranching development that was. But all these failed, some for careless reasons, some for purely unavoidable ethical reasons, they failed,” he said.
“So for them to be talking to us about ranch now, I consider it irresponsible and deceptive but I challenge them, we want to see model ranching in each state that talked about ranch now within the next 12 months.
“Certainly, they should know that this is not a solution to a problem that had been with us for hundreds of years.
According to Abdullahi, the clashes between farmers and herders is fuelled by political, ethnic and religious bigotry, and not as a result of shortage of land.
“At the moment, only 35 percent of Nigeria’s territory is under cultivation. The remaining 65 percent is open range forest,” he said
“So you cannot argue that it is shortage of land that is causing conflict between farmers and livestock owners. What is driving all this noise about herdsmen-farmers clash is political, mixed with ethnic and unfortunately in some cases, religious bigotry.
“I want to emphasise that this is dangerous. The time has come for us to stop it before it gets worse than what it is now.”
Abdullahi also commented on the controversial subject of restructuring. He attacked those in support of the concept, alleging that it was targeted at a particular section of the country, while stating that the northern region of the country would resist restructuring.
The northern elder however listed some conditions under which restructuring could possibly be considered.
“We have all personalised restructuring with a view to targeting a section of the country and this is the area that we feel very sensitive about and we will resist it. Even if we don’t resist it objectively, we can resist it politically,” he said.
“If there is going to be restructuring in the country, first, we should change from the presidential system of government to parliamentary system, and in terms of institutions that are in charge of elections; we should abolish the State Independent Electoral Commissions and we should ban any party from contesting elections unless it has direct primary where all its members will come out and decide who is going to contest council chairmanship up to the presidency.
“The State Independent Electorate Commissions do the bidding of the state governors. I can give you a recent example in Kano. How could in Kano recently a PDP state, PDP failed to win even a council seat? Something is basically wrong.
“So the manipulation of State Independent Electoral Commission is for me, today, the most dangerous threat to democracy in Nigeria. I have seen this now more or less in the light of 2018 where we are, one year to the election and politicians including governors, politicians from all levels here, I don’t make any exception, are trying to play to the gallery, in playing to the gallery, they are looking for votes.
“If we want Nigeria to be restructured, the only thing that is required is for us to call a sovereign national conference. It is the only conference that Nigeria has not experimented.”
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