Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Federal government has said that the natives and politicians should be held responsible for the unending clashes between the farmers and herdsmen, warning that it will be practically impossible to stop the free movement of cattle across the country and the borders.
Speaking during a ministerial briefing in Abuja, Minister of Interior, Lt-Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), argued that since Nigeria is a signatory to the ECOWAS protocol and free movement, it would be an impossibility to stop the movement of the cattle.
The minister equally blamed the clashes on the effects of climate change and population explosion, revealing that the situation was responsible for some farmers abandoning their traditional farming areas to encroach into the traditional cattle routes.
While stressing that the problem was being aggravated by some desperate politicians for their own selfish interests, the minister, however, revealed that desperate efforts were in place to reduce the clashes.
The herders-farmers clashes had, in the past two years, led to the destruction of lives and properties majorly in Benue, Plateau, Taraba and other states in the north-central geopolitical zone of the country.
He emphasised that part of the resolutions is that there should be an international clearance certificate for the herders moving from one country to another.
“When any herder enters into a country there must be a checkpoint area where the cattle will be inspected; there must be international clearance certificate. (It is important to) know the number of cows he is moving in with, ensure that he does not carry weapon of any kind, show him the route he must follow and so on.
“So, in doing that, all these clashes between herders and farmers will be completely reduced if not eliminated because what is happening is that herders along the routes go into farms and somehow destroy the crops,” Dambazau stated.
Blaming climate change and high population for the problem, the minister also said some failed politicians take advantage of the clashes to score cheap political points.
“Part of the problems is that there have been cattle routes over the years but because population growth and climate change even farmers are moving from their traditional communities, moving elsewhere because of climate change, so they are occupying the routes created for cattle.
“Now, population growth has made it possible for people to also build homes along those routes; so when those herders are moving, they now have to look for alternative routes, in the event they destroy farms. So, this is what is happening.
“And we (Nigeria) are a signatory to ECOWAS protocol and free movement. What is happening is that we cannot stop the free movements. About 60-65 per cent of ECOWAS is here and we also move en-mass to ECOWAS countries. We move our goods to ECOWAS countries. This is why I said it is a complex issue and it is a regional issue which must be tackle accordingly.
“The second issue is that certain politicians also politicise this issue for their own benefits, particularly when the election is approaching and they have not been able to do well in their states, so they politicise it. So, at that meeting we discussed with the governors that politicising this crisis is of no benefit to anyone rather it endangers the public,” he said.
Pressed to update Nigerians on how the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu escaped from the country early last year (2018), the minister tactically avoided the question, ignoring every protest from newsmen.
However, commenting on the porosity of Nigeria border, the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammed Babandede, told the gathering that he was not going to respond to Kanu’s escape.
Dambazau, who was giving leadership stewardship as a minister in the last three years, listed some reforms he brought to the ministry to include: automation of citizenship and business department, prison reform, reforms of the Federal Fire Service, Police reforms, Immigration Service reforms among others.
He specifically revealed that the ministry generated a total sum of N73.145 billion for the coffers of the Federal government between 2016 and 2017, explaining that revenue from passport issuance accounted for over N26.543 billion in the years under review.