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Northern Elders ask FG to set up Pastoralist Commission

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has called on the Federal Government to set up a National Pastoralist Commission to protect the interest of Nigerian herdsmen.…

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has called on the Federal Government to set up a National Pastoralist Commission to protect the interest of Nigerian herdsmen.

The NEF said this while contributing to the ongoing debate on the proposed law to phase out open grazing and establish ranching agencies, a legislation that sparked conflicting views among stakeholders in the country.

The group, in a statement by its Director Publicity and Advocacy, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said there was no reason why special initiative should not be introduced to address the concerns and plights of herders, adding that successive governments have established agencies, ministries and programmes such as NDDC, OMPADEC, to tackle challenges affecting specific communities in the South.

The NEF further urged the government to establish special funds and policies to support pastoral communities in order to improve their livelihoods.

The statement reads in parts: “The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) recognizes the importance of addressing the challenges posed by open grazing and the need for a more sustainable and modern approach to livestock management. However, the Forum is aware of the concerns raised by some northern senators regarding the potential impact of the proposed law on the livelihoods of pastoralists in the region.

“NEF believes that it is crucial for all stakeholders to engage in meaningful dialogue and consultation to find a balanced and acceptable solution that takes into account the interests of all parties involved. The Forum advocates for the development of policies and programs that support the transition from open grazing to ranching in a manner that ensures the well-being of pastoral communities while also addressing the environmental and security issues associated with open grazing.

“In light of the disagreements in the National Assembly on this matter, NEF calls for a collaborative and inclusive approach to decision-making that considers the diverse perspectives and concerns of all stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the Federal and State Governments should immediately identify suitable lands across the country and create grazing reserves and cattle routes, and where resistance is shown, to expropriate such land as may be required for the purpose through resort to extant provisions of the Land Use Act and other related laws.

“We propose the proclamation of a National Policy on Grazing and Livestock Development (NPGLD) to cater for the needs of all the pastoral communities everywhere in the country.

“We call for the immediate proclamation of a Special Intervention Initiative through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Ministries of Finance, National Planning, Agriculture and Water Resources, for supporting special livestock development policies and the establishment of special funds to support pastoral communities along the lines of the Anchor Borrowers Programme and other types of Federal Government interventions.

“We call for the immediate setting up of a National Pastoralist Commission (NPC) to act on all matters affecting the wellbeing and interests of all citizens whose livelihoods depend on livestock rearing.

“Successive governments have found it expeditious to establish structures like OMPADEC, NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta, the Amnesty Programme, etc aimed at resolving a specific set of challenges affecting specific communities in the South. There is therefore no justification whatsoever to resist or even question the creation of special initiatives to address the needs of herdsmen if these will lead to lasting peace and stability.”

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