Farmers/herdsmen crisis: Cattle rearing is private enterprise, Ortom insists
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said government must see cattle rearing as private enterprise in its quest to find a long lasting solution to the lingering farmers/herdsmen crisis in the country.
The governor delivered the first Prof. Miriam Ikejiani-Clark memorial lecture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, titled: “The State and Management of Farmers/Herdsmen Conflict in Nigeria: Lessons from the Benue Valley”.
According to him, cattle rearing must be seen as a private enterprise. The governor also advised the government to see ranching as an alternative to open grazing.
He said: “You have invited me here to share our experiences on the national tragedy of nomadic herdsmen attacks on sedentary crops farmers and other citizens. I consider this a recognition of my apical role in signing into law the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017.
“The Federal Government should promote cattle rearing as a private enterprise, with private investors encouraged to approach individual family land owners and negotiate for available lands, if any, for such purposes.
“Cattle ranching cannot and should not be ignored. It is our view that the Federal Government is the most appropriate tier of government to understand and support legislation which promotes ranching in any part of Nigeria.
“A ranching policy will provide avenue for both crop farmers and those involved in animal husbandry to increase production using modern technology. The bold step Benue has taken in enacting a law deserves applause and support, not scorn, knocks and the ongoing blame the victim narrative.”
Ortom blamed the Federal Government for not arresting and prosecuting certain people for their comments in the face of the attacks on people of the state.
“The arrest and prosecution of leaders of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria would have been the beginning of a semblance of justice for thousands of people killed, injured, maimed and displaced,” he noted.
According to the governor, the ninth National Assembly must be challenged to pass the National Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Bills, even as he stressed that “any recommendations about open cattle routes of the 1950s will not work because on such routes are now built hospitals, airport, university campuses, etc”.
“Those who think the herdsmen problem is only that of the Benue Valley and Meddle-Belts states should watch out. It was first with Plateau State and Southern Kaduna, and then it spread to others. It is spreading and soon will become a national social and economic problem too difficult to contain,” he lamented.