From Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
The Vice Chairman of Nigerian Food Security Council (NFSC), Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, has appealed to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Development Bank (AfDB) and World Bank to intervene in an effort to modernise pastoralism in West African countries.
Bagudu, who is also the Kebbi State Governor, stated this during a pastoralism week organised by the Federal Government of Nigeria in partnership with the Region of Dosso in the Niger Republic and Department of Alibori in the Benin Republic in Birnin Kebbi
According to him, ‘we are urging the ECOWAS, AfDB and World Bank to help us to modernise pastoralism in the west African countries. Pastoralism is an important west African occupation and we are proud of it as we are proud of farming occupation and fishing.
‘All these occupations require quantum resources and we must mobilise and modernise those in the occupation to do better and become more prosperous so that the three countries of Nigeria, Benin and Niger Republics will become more prosperous in joining to make Africa and West Africa more prosperous.
‘What the Scriptures described as a noble occupation has been shattered; it was transformed by language use into pastoralism. Today, equally, another transformation is taking place wrongly, I believe, into herdsmen and herds communities because many people who are involved in pastoralist activities across the West African countries are innocent – hardworking people who are looking for an opportunity to make a living and take care of their families, rather those who exploit them and those who use them to create insecurity in the three countries.
‘A gathering like this is an important avenue for further educating people that pastoralism is a very important occupation in West African countries.
‘Today, the security challenges facing the countries are confusing; the innocent versus not so innocent, therefore, we have a greater challenge to cooperate with each other and educate our people,’ Bagudu said.
Earlier, Dr Paul Ouedraogo, Deputy Executive Secretary of Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), who appreciated the efforts of Bagudu on pastoralism, urged him to set up a team comprising of ECOWAS, Niger and Benin Republics’ representatives to transform negative narrative on pastoralism.
‘Base on what Bagudu said, I would like to ask him, to get a team of one or two people coming from ECOWAS, one or two people from the regions just to start things on how to transform the negative narrative on pastoralism.
‘This is because ECOWAS has trained more than 60 journalists and this is the time now to give them the weapon to work and they can start using it in Kebbi state to change the narrative on pastoralism,’ he said.
Ouedraogo, who also appreciated the landmass of Kebbi state, noted that it would be an added advantage for the team to turn their vision to ambition.
‘So, let us use it to transform the issue of pastoralism as I and my team are happy to be here and really ready to serve you.
‘We are not doing this in the name of Benin Niger republics, or Niger; no, we just want to follow your decision and transform it into a regional point of view. So, this is why we are here”, he said.
In his remark, the Deputy Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Abuja, Dr Adeniyi Adedoyin, explained that the workshop was designed to address challenges facing pastoralism in the Sahel region and create a permanent local cross-border consultation framework between the three countries.
‘To analyse practical cases of conflicts and the modalities of their management and resolution by the judicial authorities.
‘The main results of this first session show the need for the creation of a permanent local cross-border consultation framework between the State of Kebbi, the Region of Dosso and the Department of Alibori with at least one annual high-level meeting.
‘And the establishment of a permanent dialogue between the two main protagonists (farmer/breeder) on the one hand and the technical bodies in charge of conflict prevention and management (magistrates and law enforcement agencies) on the other.
‘The conclusion of specific bi or multilateral agreements on the management of cross-border pastoral mobility between the three countries,’ he said.