The Secretary-General of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Othman Ngelzarma, says ignorance and poverty have been responsible for pushing the herdsmen into committing crimes across the country.
He explained further that they were forced into engaging in acts of criminality because of the theft of their over three million cows.
The MACBAN leader maintained that Nigerian cities harbour deadlier criminals who use the poor and ignorant Fulani herders as pawns to perpetrate evil.
Ngelzarma, who spoke in Kaduna on Thursday while addressing the NEC meeting of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), led by Chief Audu Ogbe, said the modest answer to the challenge was to resettle the pastoralists in order to educate them.
“(There are) bigger criminals and merchants of crimes in the cities,” Ngelzarma said at the forum on Thursday.
While expressing appreciation to ACF for inviting MACBAN to its meeting as a way of seeking a solution to the challenges, Ngelzarma solicited the forum’s support to create a pressure group to prevail on the government to establish settlements for pastoralists in the country.
“When they get settled in a place, it will become easier for the government to give them education; it will become easier for them to enjoy all those things other citizens are enjoying in the country, but as it is now, they don’t enjoy anything from the government while they contribute more than any other society to the government because they supply the nutritional need to the Nigerian population.
“We have over 400 grazing reserves in the country but only three are in the Southwestern part of Oyo and Ogun. All the other grazing reserves are in the northern part, all put together having about five million hectares.
“If this can be utilised, it is enough to settle these landless people. They are the only landless people in the country; the pastoralists are landless. They stay in a place, when development comes, they move and leave the place. This is a very big challenge,” the MACBAN leader said.
Responding, the ACF Chairman, Ogbe, said the acronym RUGA was not a coinage of the present administration and not a Fulani word but the initiative of the British government which saw the problems coming since 1946.
The ACF chairman stressed the need to address the issues of farmers/herders’ clashes.
“It was the British who saw this coming. There is a need to put cows in a good place where we can give them water and grass and secure them so that we can get better meat and milk. I thank the Miyetti Allah for the education they have given us and we assure them that we will continue talking.
“Kaduna, Kano and Niger have already offered land where we can put the cows. It is about government now developing the lands,” Ogbe said.