Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has reached out to Fulani herdsmen across the country to come establish their cattle ranches in the state to avoid constant clashes with native farmers.
The governor made the call on Sunday in Kano.
He noted that the recent killings linked to the farmers-herders crisis were unwarranted especially since Kano has a wide expanse of land, including dedicated grazing reserves, that remained largely underutilised.
“I am inviting herdsmen from all parts of Nigeria to relocate to Kano because we have enough facilities to accommodate them,” Mr. Ganduje said at an event held to vaccinate over one million cattle and other small animals in Garum Malam Local Government Area Sunday afternoon.
“We have grazing lands in Rogo, Gaya, Kura, Tudun Wada, Ungogo and other reserved places where facilities are in place to accommodate the herdsmen and their cattle.”
Mr. Ganduje’s call came amidst widening conflict over open grazing of livestock in agrarian settlements across the country.
Attacks and reprisals between herdsmen and farmers have left thousands dead within the last five years.
While most of the attacks are concentrated in the north-central, killings linked to herdsmen have been recorded as far as the South -South state of Delta.
In response to the confrontations, three states —Benue, Taraba and Ekiti— have passed their respective laws which specifically restricted open grazing of livestock and other activities by herdsmen. Several other southern states are currently mulling similar statutes to curb operations of herdsmen.
Mr. Ganduje said while it is rare to find a Fulani herder of Kano origin in other states, it had become a priority for his administration to ensure that Fulani, notwithstanding their origin, do not face stigmatisation or outright rejection on the basis of their nomadic exploits.
“These killings must stop,” Mr. Ganduje stated. “We cannot afford to continue to witness these senseless killings in the name of Fulani herdsmen and farmers clash over lack of grazing land while we have a place like the Falgore Game Reserve underutilised.”
The governor said the Falgore Game Reserve, spanning over three local government areas in Kano State, “can take care of millions of herdsmen and their cattle in Nigeria.” Kano State is about 20,000 square kilometres in size.
“The place has been designed to contain schools, human and animal clinics, markets, recreational centres and other social amenities that can give the herdsmen enough comfort to take care of their animals and do their business without hindrance,” he said, adding that Kano State would partner with the federal government to modernise grazing.
But the governor’s generous proposal was not immediately acceptable to the leadership of the herders association.
Ubi Haruna, chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria in Benue State on Sunday evening that the governor might have sounded nice, but his suggestion was impractical.
“There are Tiv also in Kano, Niger, Kogi and other states, are they going to return to Benue?” Mr. Haruna said by telephone. “We appreciate the governor’s concern, but we’re not going to leave Benue or anywhere in the north-central because of the bad laws they are putting in place.”
“Our problems in Benue State include the anti-open grazing law and the livestock guards who are harassing and attacking Fulani and their livestock,” he added. “But the problems would soon be resolved.”
Mr. Ganduje said his administration had sponsored more than 60 herdsmen to Europe where they received training on modern ranching of cattle.
The need to adopt modern animal husbandry techniques to end the roaming of herdsmen and their livestock has grown popular amongst political and economic commentators in the wake of the recent attacks across the country.
Several states, including Kogi and Kaduna, have embraced a proposal by the Buhari administration for the establishment of cattle colonies across the country, although many states in the south are still largely apprehensive about the idea.