NATIONAL Secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Saleh Alhassan, has insisted that the Nigerian government must revive the pre-colonial open grazing reserves because ranching cannot work.
Alhassan said this during an interview with The Punch on Sunday over the ban on open grazing by some state governments in Nigeria.
He said the group had been clamouring for the revival of the grazing reserves that were in effect before Nigeria was colonised.
“We have been insisting that they (FG) must revive the grazing reserves, which were there before the colonial era, and government has responded,” Alhassan said.
He said many herders could not ranch because it was for commercial farmers.
However, he noted that the reserves should be restored only in places they existed, which he said was predominantly in the North.
“They must restore the grazing reserves; where they don’t exist, there is no need to create any because of the hostilities across the country. We know the existing ones, some were gazetted while others were not gazetted but were documented.
“At least, they (FG) have started developing them; all these RUGA and others are nonsense,” Alhassan said.
The Federal Government had proposed the RUGA settlement plan to address incessant clashes between herders and farmers in the country.
It was an initiative of the National Economic Council (NEC) presented under the National Livestock Transformation Plan (2018-2027).
The open grazing method of cattle rearing in Nigeria has generated controversies across the country.
A research and policy group Zinariya Consult, in a report, said clashes between herders and farmers in Nigeria were predominantly caused by dispute over access to water and grazing land.
The group said due to the conflict, between 2017 and May 2020, 654 attacks were carried out, 2,539 people lost their lives while 254 were kidnapped across Nigeria in attacks and counter attacks by the farmers and herders.
Although the southern part of the country has banned open grazing, the Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami said they had no right to do so.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has also expressed his support for open grazing, which has continued to result in loss of lives and properties due to the clashes.
A few weeks ago, Buhari disclosed that he had directed Malami to revive cattle routes and grazing areas gazetted during the First Republic in 1963.
But lawyers say the cattle routes were mainly in the North.