Abdullahi Hassan, Zaria
The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh has said that though the Federal Government introduced the policy of cattle colonies to improve the lives of nomads and sustain livestock production in the country, it cannot force states to adopt said policy.
Reacting to allegations that the Federal Government is responsible for the headsmen rampage in Benue state and a lack of coordination with states, during a visit to Ahmadu Bello Universities Zaria over the weekend, Ogbeh said the government’s move has been misinterpreted to tarnish the image of the Buhari administration.
He said the thinking behind the creation of cattle colonies by the government was to help relocate nomads to the most secure and environmentally conducive environment for them and their livestock, as well as to keep them away from rustlers.
“Though we chose the creation of cattle colony in our policy, we cannot force any state to adopt it,” the minister said.
According to him, many have shown interest in the creation of the colony and “we shall work with them,” he said.
Ogbeh said that it was unfortunate that policy critics ignored the fact that “the land belongs to the states and law gives them powers to decide on it.”
To bring an end to the ongoing crises, he said the government will engage the services of experts to find a lasting solution to the problem, especially on how to design and create and sustain cattle ranches in interested states.
“Government is determined at both the state and federal levels to end the crisis not only to bring peace but also to improve the lives of the herdsmen.’’ Ogbeh stressed.
He also challenged administration critics to query the state governors about the N100 billion fund former President Goodluck Jonathan gave to the states in 2014 to solve the farmer/herdsmen problem.
“Though I don’t have the details, but it doesn’t appear that anything was done,” he suggested. “If the money went to the states and they have done nothing, what do you expect?
The minister emphasized training of agriculture extension workers.
“We want to see at least five well-trained extension workers in every local government across Nigeria in the next four years,” he said.
“We want a situation where the cattle will feed well unimpeded, without any quarrel between farmer and herdsman, just as what is done elsewhere.
On the operations of the agriculture research institutes, the minister said he was satisfaction with the level of invention and research done by the university.
“Let me apologize for the shortcomings of the 2016 budget, where not much funds had been allocated to you. I assure that this year it will be different,” he said.
Speaking, Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Ibrahim Garba, said that the institution has been conducting active research and collaboration with national and international bodies in Agriculture and Animal Science, appealing for further investment in the Research and Development.