Cletus Amaechi and Fred Itua, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said the elite should be responsible for the frequent farmers, herders’ clashes in the country.
Speaking at a televised Presidential Town Hall Interactive Programme, anchored by Mrs. Kadaria Ahmed, in Abuja, yesterday, the president said some “very important personalities encroached on the grazing routes,” thus, forcing herders to chart new pathways for their cattle, and, in the process, clashed with farmers.
Together with his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who was also at the session, the duo opened up on how the incessant farmers, herders’ clashes would be resolved.
But, they said desertification, shrinking of Lake Chad, as well climate change, exacerbated migration of herders who then encroach on farms, which culminates in crisis.
“It started from Benue (State) and the Federal Government foresaw it and I asked the minister to go to the archives and find out the cattle routes and grazing areas in the First Republic, but, subsequently, very important personalities encroached on the grazing routes…The movement (of cattle) is from the North to the South and (the crisis) is quite predictable.”
Thereafter, the president then explained that resolving the crisis would gulf be through the cooperation of the governors, with the federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, “ so that we can create these routes…Benue has banned (open) grazing. I expect a government to insist on the cattle routes and grazing areas to be re-established…”
At this juncture, Osinbajo reiterated that state governors are the chief drivers of the grazing routes and creation of ranches, through provision of land since the “federal government has no land. Only state governments have laid. The federal government cannot determine what will happen in the states. The National Economic Council has set up a committee, Livestock Transformation Plan, and many of them have given land. The plan is that the states will provide land and private individuals will pay for ranching and veterinary services; if they want. It’s an interim phase. There is also the Green Wall Project, where Nigeria is cooperating with our northern neighbours in North Africa and our neighbours in West Africa, in Niger, etc. We need to recharge Lake Chad as it has shrunk from 35, 000 to 1, 300 square metres.
“There will be a mixture of grazing routes, ranches. Governors will provide space for ranches and, in the interim, they will build earth dams so that those who need the services can access these earth dams and veterinary clinics.
“It’s a gradual process and it’s that gradual process that we will adopt.”
Asked what he thought about the alleged bribery video of Kano Governor, Umar Ganduje, the president said: “I’ve seen the clip and I don’t know how much technology was used…but, I hope (that) by the time I go for my campaign (in the state), there would be some answers from the court and the House of Assembly.”
Also, the president has challenged Nigerians with hard evidence against any corrupt member of his administration to make it available to the relevant anti-corruption agencies.
He was specifically asked why the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, Minister of Power, and others in his government have not been prosecuted to show that his anti-corruption war is not selective.
In his response, Buhari said the burden is on those making allegations to provide evidence.
“I told you why I have to be careful and the public should help us. If there are strong allegations that are backed up with evidence, bank accounts, names of companies floated, contracts awarded, then, we take them before the courts through Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and ICPC and we have to trust the system and allow them to complete investigation.