The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on Monday backed the last week’s resolution of 17 Southern governors’ meeting in Asaba, Delta State, banning open grazing.
The ACF, in a statement by its chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said it had no objection to the decision since it was taken in the best of interest to help secure the properties of farmers.
Ogbeh said: “The fact of the matter is that the crisis emanates from the belief by most herdsmen that they’re free to enter any farm, eat up the crops and rape or kill anyone raising objections. Nobody or society can accept that.
“The current high price of garri is one obvious reason for this behaviour. Few cassava farms cannot grow to maturity before it is harvested by the farmers. So, food security is already being threatened.”
He, however, urged the governors not to rest on their oars with the belief that banning open grazing would end the crisis between herders and farmers, attributing the bulk of violent herders to foreigners “marching in from neighbouring African countries in large numbers, thousands at a time and showing no regards to boundaries whether state or regional. They’ve to be stopped.”
“Therefore, the Umar Abdullahi Ganduje formula must be adopted to stop the entry into Nigeria of cattle from West Africa.
“The solution is for Nigeria to seek an amendment to Article 3 of the ECOWAS protocol, especially as regards the free movement of cattle and other livestock without special permits.
“If this is done, we have over 5 million hectares of land in old grazing reserves left, enough to accommodate over 40 million cows if well grassed and watered.
“Northern governors should immediately look into this and see the viability. Within those spaces, ranches can be developed for lease to Nigerian herders so that this matter can be brought to an end. Thereafter, any herders found roaming can be penalized.
“Our ECOWAS neighbours can find ways to deal with their own issues the way they deem fit. We can seek support from AfDB, the World Bank, the EU or the Kuwait Fund or any source willing to support us in resolving this problem.
“Hurling abuses, trading suspicion and threatening warfare as is currently the trend will only produce grief and disaster,” he stressed.