Samuel Ortom, Benue State Governor, has the warned Federal Government against offering billions of Naira to Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) to end the killings in Nigeria, saying it will backfire in the long run.
Ortom also called on the incoming 9th National Assembly to enact a legislation on ranching in order to mitigate herdsmen killings in the country.
The Benue governor spoke at Nsukka on Tuesday while delivering the maiden Professor Miriam Ikejiani Clark Memorial Lecture, titled, “The Challenges of Mitigating Herdsmen Attack on the People of Nigeria: Lessons from Benue State.”
Stressing the need for adoption of cattle ranching in Nigeria, Ortom noted that at least 24 out of the 36 states of the country now have serious farmers and herdsmen crisis, involving killings.
He maintained that without ranching laws, herdsmen may soon be at everybody’s doorstep and that would compromise farming and food security in the country.
He insisted that herdsmen attack on farmers in the country would not end unless open grazing has been completely eliminated.
“I understand that the Federal Government has thrown a huge carrot at Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, by offerng its members money running into billions to stop kidnapping in the country as reported by dailymailonline in its 3rd May 2019 edition.
“Though the government has only confirmed holding negotiations with representatives of the herdsmen, it is my opinion that giving money to herdsmen to stop the killing of innocent people across the country is only a temporary measure that will backfire in the long run,” Ortom said.
The Benue Governor recommended that such funds should instead be channeled towards helping the pastoralists and intending pastoralists to establish ranches in the states where land exists.
Ortom said we now live in the 21st century and open grazing had become extinct in the world and in Europe, Asia, America and in many other parts of the world, pastoralism has long given way to ranching.
Ortom said school, farms and other sources of livelihood have been destroyed, estimated at over N400 billion over the years, with over 180,000 people displaced.
He said in addition to thousands of lives lost, Benue has been thrown into humanitarian and economic crisis of enormous proportions.
He advised President Muhammadu Buhari and other advocates of grazing route to think twice as such routes now host schools, hospitals, courts and other public utilities.
He recalled that so called grazing routes existed when Nigeria was about 923 square kilometres with a population of 50 million people before Bakassi was ceded to Cameroun, and now the population has risen to 200 million people.
Ortom regretted that Nigeria has leadership deficit and “we seem to have a dearth of bold leaders who can clearly with wht is good, and tell the nation.”
The Benue Governor said he was ready to speak the truth like his brother, Senator Dino Melaye, even at the risk of his life, although he would not die.
He advocated for Federal, State and Local Government police as a solution to the security challenges facing the country.
Making remarks, John Nnia Nwodo jnr., the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and chairman of the occasion praised Ortom for the lecture, saying it was not enough to seek to be elected but having the courage to lead.
Ifeanyichukwu Abada, the Head of Department, Political Science, said they instituted the lecture to change the narrative of sad commentary in which the society often celebrate charlatans and nincompoops who are both morally and intellectually bankrupt.