The Oil and Solid Mineral Producing Area Landlords’ Association of Nigeria (OMPALAN), has inaugurated its Committee for Harmonization of Relations Between Herders and Farmers (CHREBHAF). Inaugurating the committee in Abuja, its president, Bishop Udo Azogu, said the main function of the committee “is to broker peace between herders and farmers with a view to ending the frequent bloody clashes that have resulted to loss of life and property across the nation and threatened national stability.”
He reminded them that they have a critical assignment to facilitate peaceful coexistence between herders and farmers: “I wish to stress that your assignment to facilitate peaceful co-existence between herders and farmers and end wanton killings resulting from bloody clashes across the Country is critical to national security and stability. Your job is to ensure that both the farmers and herders co-exist in peace under the laws of the land.
“I wish to use this medium to call on both herders and farmers to give peace a chance and halt all hostilities while the CHREBHAF comes up with a win-win proposal for both sides. We must shun all divisive tendencies and support measures that unite us in order to keep the visions of the founding fathers of the nation alive.
“OMPALAN will continue to shore up its constitutional responsibility of supporting robust Government policies and programs targeted at ensuring peaceful co-existence among Nigeria’s vast ethno-religious diversity.”
Azogu said OMPALAN leaders resolved to co-opt other Nigerians “who are not citizens of the states where they are domiciled into various organs of the association in all the states of the federation to foster national integration.”
The committee chairman, Abubakar, said in 1965, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna Sokoto, the Premier of Northern Nigeria enacted Grazing Reserve Law to address anticipated clashes between herders and farmers, which he signed before his death in 1966: “The Grazing Reserve Law provides for the establishment of grazing reserves for all communities desiring the establishment of grazing reserves.”
He disclosed that he was among candidates awarded scholarship to study ranch management in the United States at the end of which successful candidates returned to Nigeria to invest in large-scale livestock business. He called on herders and farmers alike to cooperate with his peace committee to work out an acceptable solution that would promote peaceful coexistence and end the herders/farmers crisis in the country.
The committee’s terms of reference included: To facilitate peaceful interaction between herders and farmers; make proposals that will permanently address herders/farmers clashes across Nigeria; liaise with governments, ministries, agencies and other development agencies with a view to brokering peace between herders and farmers across the country; to perform such other functions which in the opinion of the committee shall foster peaceful co-existence between Nigerians vast ethno-religious groups.
The CHREBHAF shall function for initial period of six months and shall submit interim reports during the period.
Other members of the peace committee included Alhaji Hammadu Abubakar, Chairman; Eze Fatah Emetumah, Vice Chairman and Prof Eyo Etim Nyong who is to serve as Secretary. Other members: Maj-Gen. Yakubu Usman, rtd; Chief Sunny Jackson Udoh; Justice Andrew E. Okon, rtd; Alhaji Mukhtar Garba Abubakar; Otunba Kojo Aruna Elewi; Ethelbert Okwaranyia; Dr (Mrs) Abimbola Olajuwon Odiase; Elder Lolo Ibieneye; Dr. Aroh Chukwuemeka; Amara Onubogu; Dr. Ndukwe Adindu and Princess Abigail Amalaha.
At the state level the committees comprise the state chairmen and chairmen, Advisory Boards, as co-chairmen; the secretaries as committee secretaries while members shall include; coordinators, Govt/Community Development; Coordinator, Peace & Conflict Resolution; coordinators, Inter-Religious Affairs; publicity secretaries; women leaders; youth leaders and personnel assistants to state leaders.