Only Government active involvement through massive investment in modernised Animal Husbandry and Mechanised Farming can offer a permanent solution to herders and farmers clashes
The leadership of labour Must begin to mobilise Nigeria working people, farmers, herders and poor to demand government massive investment in modern Animals husbandry under a democratic control of the working
crude and profit first approach no measure offered either by the federal or state government will be able to guarantee a permanent solution
The face-off between FG and states Governor over grazing routes is a continuation of the crisis created by the ways and primitive manner the operation of cattle rearing is organised in the country. It further shows that except there is a radical departure from this crude and profit first approach no measure offered either by the federal or state government will be able to guarantee a permanent solution
Take for instance, rearing of cattle across the country today is largely a private business owned by members of billionaire class including those in government and it is run for profit and not to satisfy the working peoples’ needs for meat and products derivable of cow.
Therefore, because of the private motive behind the operation of cattle rearing, most of the owners of the business are not willing to invest on the establishment of either ranches or grazing reserves . This is often conceived with motive to maximise profit.
Establishment of ranches will mean that the owners will have to make provision for the shelter, for the families of the poor Fulani herders whom they often employ to care for the cow on poor wages and precarious working conditions without right to union and pension. In addition to losing easy profits with little or no cost made through employment of poor herders to drive cattle around, there is likely fear that establishment of ranches may give the poor herder a sense of organising themselves as a labour force. This could be one of the major reason the big business continues to insist on open grazing.
It is important to state that both the open grazing and the plan to reactivate the grazing routes recently pronounced by the federal government are not only barbaric but also not fashionable practice in animal husbandry in the 21st century. Even if the grazing routes are gazetted as claimed by FG though refuted by the state Governors and many Nigerians in legal profession, the truth is that most of the grazing routes created in 60s have been consumed by urbanization. Unfortunately, the failure of the successive governments to address the effects of climate change with increasing rate of desertification of the north has continued to force the herders to move towards the south.
Given this circumstance especially with the unwillingness of most owners of the business of cattle rearing to invest on ranches and reserves, it is most likely that the sophisticated weapons often found in pocession of herdsmen are often supplied by the billionaire owners of the cow business for forceful occupations of farmland to guarantee an avenue of free grazing for the cow.
This led to, according to one report, over 870 recorded violent clashes between farmers and herders in the Middle Belt alone between 2000 and 2015. The record should be even worse since 2015. While these clashes which have inflicted a massive loss on both the herders and farmers communities are condemnable and end to it should be the desire of all genuine change seeking Nigerians. It is also important to state that a bigger problem await the country except the governors adopt some kinds of flexibility with the enforcement of their respective anti-grazing law through a prior provision of grazing reserves.
Otherwise the country stands the risk of either being plunged into shortage including scarcity of derivative products from cow including meat given the fact that most owners of cow business especially the small holders at the risk of being forced out of the business. This is partly because even if they are willing to establish ranches or grazing reserves today, it will be difficult if possible to secure land to establish either a grazing reserve or ranches especially in the southern parts of the country given the nature of ethnic tension at the present time.
Therefore, government should make provision for grazing reserve for the purpose of averting the scarcity of derivatives products from cow and the farmers and herders clashes. Both the federal and state governments should prioritise state active involvement in the agricultural sector by investing massively in modernised form of animal husbandry and crop production which will include establishments of grazing reserve and ranches under a democratic control of a committee that will involve the elected representatives of herders and farmers.
This approach will not only make possible an end to the recurrent farmers and herders clashes but also adequate supply of food and derivatives products of cow to the people at a cost that will be cheaper and affordable to vast majority of workers, youths and masses. So, I strongly hold that the leadership of the labour movement should begin the the mass mobilisation of working people, farmers, herders and the poor in support of this approach and place such a demand on the government.
Comrade Abiodun Bamigboye
Acting National Chairperson
Socialist party of Nigeria (SPN)