‘Give bailout funds to herders for ranching, MURIC tells FG

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The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has said the perennial farmer-herder crisis rocking the country, particularly in the South and Middle-belt, will become a thing of the past if the federal government supports the herders financially to buy land in states for ranching.

The religious group said that the government could provide the financial support in form of bailout funds which the herders would use to secure land and stop their nomadic lifestyle informed by the search for pastures.

The farmer-herder conflict took a turn for the worse recently when residents of host communities started blaming herders for killings, kidnappings and allied criminality plaguing them.

This resulted in eviction notices being issued by governor Akeredolu and a non-state actor Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho, in Ondo and Oyo respectively.

Some state governors have banned open and night grazing in their states to address banditry and the crisis between farmers and herders.

Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano State, had suggested that a ban be placed on the movement of cattle from the north to the south.

But MURIC, in a statement on Wednesday by Ishaq Akintola, its director, said if bailout funds can be given to banks, airlines, vehicle producing companies and petroleum importers, such financial assistance should be extended to herders.

It said, “Meanwhile herders and cow owners may not be willing or they may lack the capacity to buy land for cattle grazing. As for the will, Northern traditional leaders have a role to play in persuading herders and cow owners to change their mindset and become willing to operate ranches. Concerning financial capacity, this is where FG should come in,”

“FG must be prepared to stoop in order to conquer. A huge bailout must be granted herders and cow owners to enable them buy land and set up ranches.

“Such a bailout is not new and the herders/farmers conundrum necessitates it. After all banks, airlines, private vehicle producing companies, petroleum importers and even farmers have received subsidies, bailouts and waivers in the past. It is now the turn of herders and cow owners and the time to do it is now.”

He said the herder-farmer conflicts do not have ethnic and religious connotations, and that cattle also destroy crops in the northern part of the country.

“For example, herders who destroy farms in Zamfara are Northerners. It is also generally assumed that they are Muslims. Zamfara hunters and vigilante men who protect the farms and chase the herders are also Northerners and Muslims as well. Bandits in Sokoto are also Northerners while the local guards organized to keep the bandits at bay are also Northerners,” he said.

“Therefore there is no ethnic or religious factor in this ongoing herders and farmers crisis. It is neither Fulanisation nor Islamisation. It is an economic cum security problem, pure and simple.

“This has enabled MURIC to come to the conclusion that no religious or ethnic sentiment should be built around the herdsmen/farmers clash whether in Oyo, Ekiti or Ondo State.

“The reason Lagos has been spared to a large extent is the fact that it is not an agricultural state. The Lagos situation may also have been responsible for our earlier assumption that ethnicity and religious sentiments were at play in the herders/farmers quagmire.”

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