States differ as Zamfara, Gombe begin ranching, Oyo, Cross River, others oppose project

State governments on Thursday differed on ranching for herdsmen as a solution to killings and kidnappings by herders.

Officials of Oyo, Cross River, Kogi, Enugu, Ondo and Ekiti state governments in separate interviews with The PUNCH, said their states had no plans to establish ranches for herdsmen.

But their counterparts in Zamfara and Gombe states said they had begun plans to set up ranches for herdsmen.

While Gombe State’s Director General,  Press Affairs  Government House,  Ismaila Misilli, said the state had allocated 130 hectares of land for the project, Zamfara State Director General Media, Publicity and Enlightenment, Alhaji Yusuf Idris, said the state Ruga settlements would soon be completed.

But officials of other states described ranching as a private business, adding that interested investors should establish it.

Following increasing killings and kidnappings by herdsmen in the country,  there have been renewed calls on state and federal governments to establish ranches for herdsmen.

For example, the Vice President of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, Sheikh Abdur’rasheed Hadiyatullahi, in an interview with journalists in Osogbo, Osun State on Thursday last week advised, governors of South-West states to consider creation of ranches before banning open grazing.

Recall that the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, had on January 18 issued a seven-day ultimatum to herdsmen to vacate the state’s forest reserves.

Although Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria initially opposed the order, after a peace meeting on January 25 involving Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Akeredolu, the cattle breeders accepted Ondo State Government’s directive

Ranching: Cattle rearing is a private business – Oyo

In an interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday, the Chief Press Secretary to Oyo State governor, Taiwo Adisa, said herdsmen in the state were free to apply for land to build ranches for their livestock.

Adisa added that the state government would not establish a ranch.

According to him, ranching is a private business and anybody that is interested in it is free to apply for land to build his business just like other entrepreneurs.

He said, “The Oyo State anti-open grazing law sees ranching as a personal business.  Herdsmen are free to apply for land for that purpose.”

No plan for ranching in Cross River – Gov’s aide

The Cross River State Government also said it was not planning to establish ranches in the state.

The Special Adviser Media and Publicity to Governor Ben Ayade, Christian Ita, who disclosed this in Calabar on Thursday, said,  “We don’t have problems with herders. You only go into ranching if you have issues with them. We don’t have that problem in the state.”

Also, the Kogi State Government ruled out the establishment of government ranches.  It described ranching as a private business.

It said it would protect any entrepreneur willing to establish ranches in any part of the state.

The state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Kingsley Fanwo, who disclosed this, stated, “As a government, we will do all within the law to ensure we do not witness farmers/herders clashes.

“As you are aware, ranching is a private business and people have ranches even within the state. So it is not something new. Any interested entrepreneur can decide to have a ranch. It is acceptable and it is not only the Fulani that rear cattle. Our people are also doing well in that business.”

According to him, the state government has mechanism for ensuring peace between herders and farmers.  He warned that the state would not tolerate criminal activities that could jeopardize peace.

The Enugu State Government said it had yet to decide whether or not to set up ranches to curb herders and farmers clashes in the state.

Enugu was one of the states that had recorded killings and destruction of farms by herdsmen.

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr Chidi Aroh, in an interview with The PUNCH, said,  “No decision has been made on that” when asked whether his state was planning ranching to end herdsmen attacks in the state.

When contacted, the Osun State Commissioner for Information, Funke Egbemode, said the state would take a decision on ranches at the appropriate time, noting that what the state Governor, Gboyega  Oyetola, was concerned about was keeping all residents safe.

Egbemode said, “We will need time for a proper reaction to this. Let’s give it a little bit of time before we will come out with what we are going to do. For now, residents are living peacefully.

“Everybody living in Osun, we maybe of different extractions, but we live in peace as a community without crisis. And we will continue to do so. The decision on that will be taken jointly by all the residents. For now, the governor is on top of everything that will make us have peace in the state.”

Also in a chat with one of our correspondents, the Chairman of the Committee on Peaceful Coexistence Between Fulani/Bororo and the Crop Farmers in the state, Mr Mudasiru Toogun, called on private investors to establish ranches.

Toogun said government might not be able to finance a project such as creation of ranches, adding that investors would recoup investments within six months of establishment of ranches as herders would also be willing to pay for the services such a business would render to them.

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