Wednesday, January 17, 2018 1:20 pm
By Ademola Adegbamigbe
After 73 people were killed in Logo and Guma in Benue State on 1 January, 2018, the debate over what could be done to prevent recurrence of such skirmishes has become more poignant.On the Federal Government’s side, establishment of cattle colonies (initially the proposal was on cattle ranches) in each state of the federation could be the solution.
Here is the ancestry of the recent argument. At a public hearing organized by the Senate Committees on Agriculture, and National Security and Intelligence on 3 May 2016, the Minister of State, Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, argued that since migration southwards for greener pasture was caused by the expansion of the desert and global warming, establishment of ranches had become a necessity.
Chief Audu Ogbe, the Agric minister repeated this line on 30 May, 2016: “Ranches will not be established on lands extracted from communities, people have to farm in the ranches. In some parts of the North, some governors have given as much as 5,000 hectares of land, some even 10,000 hectares. Our job is to bring the right kind of crops, do the right kind of water source and provide veterinary services because some of these cows have some disease issues. We cannot afford to allow cows and human beings mix the way they are doing now. The essence is to stop the crisis. Too many people have died, there is too much violence in the land, we can’t go on like that. We can’t boast to the rest of the world that we thrive in killing each other. It is not right.”
However, the proposal has created some domino effects. While many rejected the proposal in its entirerity because it is regarded as a form of favouring a particular sub sector of agriculture, those who give it a grudging acceptance are demanding for such favour too.
The Community Development Coalition (CDC), an Abuja based advocacy group of concerned indigenes of Benue State, has, according to a media report, accused the federal government of deliberately paying ‘deaf ears’ to what they described as deteriorating security situation in the state. The coalition also rejected the proposed ‘cattle colonies’ while maintaining that cows should be kept in ranches. According to the convener, Prof. Yima Sen, “What is particularly disturbing is the level of insensitivity that has characterized the usual slow, belated and knee-jerk response of the federal government, and particularly President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We find it completely unacceptable that this last attack was actually receded by a proud and arrogant boast by known officilas of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, the social-cultural association of herdsmen, to the effect that Benue will know no peace. This statement was made in response to the passage into law of the open grazing prohibition law. The people of the state are left with no option than to conclude that the president, who by the way, is the grand patron of Miyetti Allah, has turned an open eye and is bent on keeping a deaf ear to these atrocities, or that he is actively involved in the diabolical and outrageous scheme,” he stated.
Also, the Nigerian Association of Piggery Farmers, have demanded for a 20-hectare Piggery Colony in the 19 Northern States especially Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, Bauchi, Niger, Borno and Gombe and that the National Assembly should pass a law on Piggery Colonies in all Northern states. They went further that a section of the Nigerian Army should be employed in the protection of pigs and pig farmers, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture should set aside a budget for the importation of Pig Feed from Argentina and that there should be a special department of Piggery in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
In a recent letter the association addressed to the President, signed by Ogbuefi Animam Eze,
National Secretary, Nigerian Association Piggery Farmers (NAPF), it gave reasons for such demands: “Our pigs have been variously targeted for elimination in several Northern states. Those Sharia compliant states have refused to allow our legitimate business to thrive. Our members have been hounded and harassed by the Hisbah Police and others. We deplore this. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture has paid deaf ears to out plight. Our members demand that the marginalization must stop in order to forestall the breakdown of Law & Order.”
Below is the letter of the pig farmers:
Nigerian Association of Piggery Farmers,
Dear Mr. President,
Demand For Piggery Colonies
The National Association of Piggery Farmers deplore the marginalization of the association by the Federal Government. Our pigs have been variously targeted for elimination in several Northern states. Those Sharia compliant states have refused to allow our legitimate business to thrive. Our members have been hounded and harassed by the Hisbah Police and others. We deplore this.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture has paid deaf ears to out plight. Our members demand that the marginalization must stop in order to forestall the breakdown of Law & Order.
From the foregoing, NAPF thus demand the following:
1. Equal opportunities for all farmers and herders throughout the federation
2. We demand for a 20 hectare Piggery Colony in the 19 Northern States especially Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, Bauchi, Niger, Borno and Gombe
3. We demand the National Assembly to pass a law on Piggery Colonies in all Northern states
4. We demand that a section of the Nigerian Army be employed in the protection of pigs and pig farmers
5. We demand the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to set aside a budget for the importation of Pig Feed from Argentina
6. We demand a special department of Piggery in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
Dear Mr. President, we are a law abiding association. We prevent our members from being provoked by the government-backed Hisbah/Islamic horde that aim to destroy our pig farmers. We shall not be involved in attacking and killing the anti-piggery people in the Sharia States. If these things are not done, we can no longer guarantee that our members would not deliberately target our transducers!
Ogbuefi Animam Eze
Nigerian Association Piggery Farmers (NAPF)
Cc: Nzuko Umunna