Ali Abare, Gombe
Nigeria has a total of 22 million cattle valued at N3.4 trillion aside the staggering number of goats and sheep.
This makes up about 50 percent of Nigeria’s total national budget.
Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Nomadic Education, Prof. Bashir Haruna Usman disclosed this, on Monday, in his opening remark at a two-day national conference on the dynamics of pastoral nomadism in contemporary Nigeria, organised by the Federal University of Kashere, Gombe State.
Prof. Usman pointed out that cattle in Nigeria was a huge source of revenue that can not only augment revenues from oil but contribute immensely towards the economic diversification thrust of the Federal Government.
While describing the conference as timely, Prof. Usman said various scholars from across the country would brainstorm during the event with a view to proffering workable solutions for the Federal Government to implement in addressing the lingering farmers/herdsmen clashes.
He commended the management of the university for taking the bull by the horn and to be the first to organize a national conference geared towards finding lasting solutions to the crisis involving farmers and herdsmen.
Usman also cautioned participants from using the term “Fulani herdsmen” during the conference as according to him, “herdsmen have been criminalised. And when you introduce ethnicity to this, it becomes unacceptable.”
He said it is the hope of the organizers of the conference that at the end of the session, practical solutions would be proffered for subsequent implementation by the Federal Government.
Earlier in his address, Convener of the conference and Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Alhassan Mohammed Gani, said the event was the first national conference organized by the university as part of its contribution to developing workable solution to national problems and discourse.
Prof Gani said the theme of the conference, “The Dynamics of Pastoral Nomadism in Contemporary Nigeria: Problems, Policies and Prospects” , was chosen to address a burning national issue that requires scientific and wholistic approach.
According to the university don, the farmer/herdsmen conflicts that frequently lead to loss of lives, have defied solution over the years, with government forced to go back to the drawing board in order to find lasting solutions.
“It is our expectation therefore that the conference will explore opportunities and support initiatives that will solve the continued herdsmen/farmers clashes in parts of the country,” he said.
Four papers have been lined up for presentation on the first day of the conference, among which are, the lead paper on Managing a Clash of Civilizations: Issues and Politics of Pastoral Nomadism in Contemporary Nigeria by Prof I.L Bashir, a second paper, Context for Survival between Fulani Pastoralists and Farmers by Dr. Isah Mohammed Abbas.
In his lead paper, Prof I.L. Bashir blamed government for its failure to fully implement policies put in place to address the issue of nomadism in the country.
He particularly blamed government for failing to keep in place areas originally mapped out as cattle routes, which have now been taken over for the purpose of development.
“One good example is the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. It used to be a cattle route but have been taken over by government,” he said.
In attendance at the conference include representatives of farmers and herdsmen from across the country, including the national president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, national president of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria as well traditional rulers.