Ex-UN envoy proffers solutions to herdsmen-farmers crisis

 Tunde Akanbi, Ilorin

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Ibrahim Gambari
Prof. Ibrahim Gambari

Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, has called for the revival of the 1965 Grazing Reserve Law as a solution to the incessant herdsmen-farmers clashes.

According to him, the Law can be revived based on section 315 of the 1999 constitution in the 19 northern states.

Professor Gambari made these remarks  at a symposium titled: “Pastoralists and crop farmers’ crisis: A discourse on proactive measures to prevent conflict in Nigeria organized by the College of Agriculture , Kwara State University , Malete ( KWASU).

He said unless Nigerians stop classifying the killer herdsmen as Fulani, the herdsmen-farmers classes and the attendant wanton destruction of lives and property will continue unabated.

The former Nigerian UN ambassador noted that out of the estimated 40 million hectares of grazing land in the country, only three million hectares are specifically tagged as grazing reserves.

“The Nigerian livestock industry is largely dependent on natural vegetation. Although, there are a vast hectares of natural vegetation in the country, they are not maximally utilized due to poor planning and conflicting government policies,” he added.

Professor Gambari also called for harmonization of relevant laws and policies that govern grazing reserves and a national review and protection of traditional stock routes.

He added: “Regional instruments governing pastoralism should be protected and above all domesticated. In addition to the laws, consultative processes between farming and pastoral communities are required to review the effect of statutes and regulations on routine practices of animal husbandry.”

The diplomat, who disputed that the idea to encourage nomads to settle was first made in 1942 but was never implemented, recommended that “a clear policy of land grant to pastoralists should be developed and implemented by the state governments. “

In his paper, titled: Constitutional provisions guiding the use of land, water, forest resources by pastoralists and crop farmers in Nigeria, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Yusuf Ali, recommended ranching as one of the possible models in areas with lower population density in the North East (Sambisa game reserve in Bornu state) and North West (Gidan Jaja grazing reserve in Zamfara state) among others.

“It’s my humble view that pastoralism is not sustainable in Nigeria over the long term due to high population growth rate, expansion of farming and loss of pasture and cattle routes. At the same time, pastoralism cannot be prohibited in the short term as there are strong cultural and political economy reasons for its existence.

“It is important therefore to develop both legal and policy framework for a transitional period during which new systems would be put in place,” he concluded.