Kenneth Udeh, Abuja
In a bid to find a lasting solution to the reccurring farmer-herder conflict in Niger State, Governor Sanni Belllo on Tuesday met with members of the European Union countries in Nigeria.
The meeting, which lasted over an hour behind closed doors, focused on developing modern ways of cattle rearing in order put an end to the violent clashes that have led to many deaths and destruction of property.
“Top of the agenda was on the modern ways of rearing livestock and the efforts the state government is making towards addressing the conflict between herdsmen and farmers,” Governor Bello said.
The Governor added that he “ave them (European Union) a run down of what I thought, in my opinion, are the issues and ways to address them, and generally we came to an agreement with regards to what the issues are and we solicited for support from the European Union on how to support our herdsmen and government…”
Speaking on the areas of intervention with the EU, the Governor said:
“The areas will be technical with regards to the areas of modern ways of handling cattle, migrating our local breed to better ones that will provide more milk and beef.
‘To be profitable we identified that we need cattle that will give you 20 litres of milk per day or 600 kg of meat within 18 months so. With time there will be some technical discussions on the right step to take. The essence of the meeting was basically to listen to us and our challenges, which they have heard, and we shall be expecting their feedback.
On education, the Governor remarked that “asides livestock, we need to emphasise more on technical education because what we lack are skills. We have too many graduates that have no jobs. Unfortunately, everyone wants a white collar job.
“The way forward is to engage people to engage more in skills acquisition, and to do that it means that we have to develop our technical schools and to reequip them to meet modern requirements so that they function properly.
On his part, Ketil Karlsen, Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria, said that the Union is committed to working with the Northern governors to end the violent clashes.
His statement reads:
“We had a very rich dialogue. He told about his experiences in making sure that we can curb those clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
“This is what the European Union has followed closely and is very supportive of the development of livestock transformation plan; and it’s good to see how that is transforming into implementation on the ground. We have carefully taken note; there are a number of EU companies engaging and finding business models.
“We look forward to having more efficient milk production, having grazing opportunities and livestock opportunities in Nigeria. So, we believe that this must be part and parcel of the solutions, looking ahead; and also we are, in the short term, making sure that there are opportunities for all and mediation efforts are needed so that we can overcome the clashes that we have seen between herdsmen and farmers. The EU is loyally supporting the Government of Nigeria and state level engagements to see that solutions are found.
The European Union is looking very carefully into what should be our priorities for the future, and currently we are implementing programmes in Nigeria in the order of €600 to €700 million, and now we are in between phases.
“I am confident that education will be one of them as we look ahead in making sure that Nigerians acquire the necessary skills. Education for the girl child also is a vital priority in this country.”