The Kajuru chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria has warned that herders will fight back if they are forced to abandon their trade (cattle rearing).
The MACBAN’s chairman, Musa Aliyu Ardo, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the sidelines of a capacity-building workshop on conflict prevention in Kaduna on Thursday, insisted that herders were peace-loving people who co-existed with other ethnic groups.
The workshop, which was organised by the Office of the Vice-President, was aimed at tackling the herders/farmers’ clashes in the state. It was funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.
Ardo said, “We want peace in Kajuru. We are law-abiding citizens. Herders’ are preoccupied with their trade. Herders’ are not farmers. Herders’ business is in the bush where they rear their cattle. Any herdsman indulging in kidnapping, armed robbery is not a true Fulani.
“Rearing cattle is the average herders’ means of livelihood. We have no Western education. Any attempt to separate us from our cattle, means depriving us from our source of livelihood. This is unacceptable and will be resisted. The herder co-exists with all ethnic groups but once he is forced out of his trade; his rights to living trampled, he will be forced to fight back.”
Also, the spokesman for the Birnin-Gwari Emirate Council, Alhaji Zubair Abdurra’uf (Dan-Masanin Birnin-Gwari), expressed concern over the spate of kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry in the area.
He said should the federal and state governments failed to act, food crisis would be triggered “because farmers can no longer go to their farms again as such there is bound to be food crisis, not only in Birnin-Gwari but in the entire northern Nigeria being confronted by this insecurity.”
Abdurra’uf added, “As far as we are concern, we suffered more than Zamfara State in terms of the activities of kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery.”
He noted that the people of Birnin-Gwari were traumatised as a result of the activities of bandits such that “we can no longer sleep.”
Earlier in her opening remarks, the Advisor on Rule of Law to the Vice-President, Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi, said the farmer-herders’ crisis had become one of Nigeria’s biggest security challenges.
Waziri-Azi, who lamented that the crisis had been in existence for decades, added that it significantly worsened between 2014 and 2019.
Waziri-Azi said it was based on this that the Federal Government in 2018 unveiled the National Livestock Transformation Plan, which she said, was a 10-year plan to tackle the crises in Zamfara, Kaduna, Benue, Maraba Plateau, Adamawa and Nasarawa states.
She said, “The plan is encompassing and is designed to support the government at all levels. It addresses peace and security, transformation and national growth and there are various entry points for all stakeholders to participate.”