Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
Nigeria’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, has suggested the revival of the 1965 Grazing Reserve Law as a solution to the herdsmen-farmers conflict unsettling many communities across the country.
Gambari said the Law can be revived based on section 315 of the 1999 Constitution in the 19 northern states.
This is just as a legal icon, Mallam Yusuf Ali asked Nigerians to stop classifying the rampaging herdsmen as Fulani.
He said unless Nigerians stop classifying the killer herdsmen as Fulani, the herdsmen-farmers clashes and the attendant wanton destruction of lives and property will continue unabated.
Gambari and Ali spoke at a symposium titled ‘Pastoralists and crop farmers’ crisis: A discourse on proactive measures to prevent conflict in Nigeria’, organised by the College of Agriculture, Kwara State University, Malete (KWASU) yesterday.
The former UN ambassador noted that out of the estimated 40 million hectares of grazing land in the country, only three million hectares are specifically tagged as grazing reserves.
“The Nigerian livestock industry is largely dependent on natural vegetation. Although there is vast hectares of natural vegetation in the country, they are not maximally utilized due to poor planning and conflicting government policies,” Gambari said.
He called for harmonization of relevant laws and policies that govern grazing reserves and a national review and protection of traditional stock routes.
He added, “Regional instruments governing pastoralism should be protected and above all domesticated. In addition to the laws, consultative process between farming and pastoral communities are required to review the effect of statutes and regulations on routine practices of animal husbandry.”
The diplomat, who lamented that the idea to encourage nomads to settle was first made in 1942 but was never implemented, recommended that “a clear policy of land grant to pastoralists should be developed and implemented by the state governments.”
In his paper titled ‘Constitutional provisions guiding the use of land, water, forest resources by pastoralists and crop farmers in Nigeria’, Mallam Yusuf Ali recommended ranching as one of the possible models in areas with low population density in the northeast (Sambisa game reserve in Bornu state) and northwest (Gidan Jaja grazing reserve in Zamfara state), amongst others.
“It’s my humble view that pastoralism is not sustainable in Nigeria over the long term due to high population growth rate, expansion of farming and loss of pasture and cattle routes. At the same time, pastoralism cannot be prohibited in the short term as there are strong cultural and political economy reasons for its existence.
“It is important, therefore, to develop both legal and policy frameworks for a transitional period during which new systems would be put in place,” Ali said.