The National Economic Council, NEC, on Thursday agreed to stop movement of herdsmen in the country, starting with the five mostly affected states of Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna and Plateau.
The Council stated that government can no longer continue to allow the ECOWAS Protocol which permits free movement of goods and services in respect to cattles to flock into Nigeria to the detriment of the citizenry.
The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who was joined by the Governor of Ebonyi state, David Umahi, Governor of Jigawa state, Abubakar Badaru and the deputy governor of Lagos made this known to State House correspondents at the end of Thursday’s NEC meeting chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
Ogbeh said that before animals would be allowed to cross the nation’s borders from the sub-region, they must be certified stressing that henceforth no cattle or herdsman would be allowed to cross on foot into Nigeria.
“It was agreed that we should not allow foreign herdsmen enter our country without certification. If they must come, they must come through proper certification,” stressing that the time of indiscriminate movement of animals and herdsmen across the borders is gone. We have asked ECOWAS members to control cattles,” he said.
He lamented that though Nigeria cannot stop anybody within the sub region under the ECOWAS Protocol from free movement, worrisome reports from the states where farmers and herdsmen clashes are prevalent showed a semblance of foreign presence.
The minister warned that Nigeria would no longer tolerate such.
Speaking on the report of the technical committee on the farmers and herdsmen, chairman of the committee, Umahi said that NEC approved the immediate halting of movement of herdsmen and their cattle from one place to the other as part of solutions to the incessant killings and destruction of property in the affected states.
He said, “movement by nomadic herdsmen has to stop. The most profitable way is ranching. That’s the way forward,” disclosing that the government has approved five states of Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa, and Zamfara for the take off for grazing reserves.
The governor disclosed that the respective states have agreed to provide lands for grazing reserves as permanent solution to the farmer and herdsmen crisis in the country.
He also revealed that as part of an improved animal husbandry, the technical committee recommended the introduction of improved species of cows for high yield as well as the introduction of subsidies for animal husbandry, in the country.
Umahi added that NEC also approved the report of the committee for the establishment of nomadic schools for children of herdsmen.