The Presidency has expressed its disapproval of the resolutions reached by Southern Governors, which stipulates a ban on open grazing in the entire sub-region.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, in a statement on Monday, stated that he believes the Governors have fallen short in offering solution to the lingering crisis between farmers and herders in the country.
“It is very clear that there was no solution offered from their (the Governors’) resolutions to the herder-farmer clashes that have been continuing in our country for generations,” he said.
Shehu added, “But the citizens of the Southern States – indeed citizens of all States of Nigeria – have a right to expect their elected leaders and representatives to find answers to challenges of governance and rights, and not to wash their hands off hard choices by, instead, issuing bans that say: “not in my State”.
The Governors of Southern States met in the Delta State capital, Asaba, on May 11, where it was agreed that the imposition of a ban on open grazing and movement of cattle was to be adopted.
Also, the governors demanded the restructuring of the country along with fiscal federalism, devolution of powers, and state police. President Muhammadu Buhari was also asked to convene a national dialogue to address the agitations by various groups in the region.
In his reaction to the demands made by the Governors, Shehu noted that the President has a strong commitment to resolving the conflicts between herders and farmers in a sustainable and lasting way.
He expressed hope that a permanent solution would emerge to address the frequent clashes between both parties, as well as the associated problem of the gun-wielding killer herdsmen.
‘Worried More Than Any Other Citizen’
Shehu stated that President Muhammad Buhari had authorized several specific measures to bring a lasting solution to the frequent clashes as recommended by the Minister of Agriculture, Sabo Nanono, in a report he submitted.
He stated that President Buhari signed off on the report in April, accusing the Southern Governors of acts of politicking intended to demonstrate their power by banning open grazing in their various States.
According to Shehu, the ban on open grazing is of questionable legality, given the constitutional right of all Nigerians to enjoy the same rights and freedoms within every one of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – regardless of the State of their birth or residence.
“Fortunately, this declaration has been pre-empted, for whatever it is intended to achieve, and Mr President, who has rightly been worried about these problems more than any other citizen in consultation with farmers and herders alike, commissioned and approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves in the States, starting with those that are truly committed to the solution and compliant with stated requirements.
“With veterinary clinics, water points for animals, and facilities for herders and their families, including schooling – through these rehabilitated reserves, the Federal Government is making far-reaching and practical changes allowing for different communities to co-exist side-by-side: supporting farmers to till their fields, herders to rear their livestock, and Nigerians everywhere to be safe,” he said.