Recently, at this year’s Livestock and Aquaculture Trade Fair, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo noted that Nigeria has lost over $14 billion yearly due to the conflict existing between herders and farmers. Mr Osinbajo’s 411 on this age-long strife revealed a huge loss that does not bode well for a nation.
Mr. Osinbajo went on to express that the federal government had put a nip in the bud by formulating the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), to “support and strengthen the development of market-driven ranches in the livestock ecosystem for improved productivity, through breed improvement and pasture production, in addition to efficient land and water productivity improvement;” an initiative fondly welcomed by 22 states who have indicated interest.
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However, it is pertinent to state that this so-called initiative is grossly lopsided and does not in any meager measure address the issue. It, therefore, becomes crystal clear that the federal government has a dog in the fight between herders and farmers. It is another cynical propaganda, which brazenly showboats preservation of a political hegemony engendered by ethnic and tribal apron strings.
To resolve this problem, there should be a major overhauling of our national policies to favour both herdsmen and farmers; they are connected and needed to forestall food scarcity in Nigeria. Moving further, the channels through which the arms and ammunition employed in the herders-farmers clashes and their consequent reprisal attacks should be shut-down, and anyone who defaults in this regard should be duly punished and brought to face the law, for “criminals are criminals whether they are our brothers or not.”
Furthermore, the role of education cannot be overstated as it helps to erase the warped ideology that permeates the mind of an average herdsman, which holds that cattle comes first in all things; even before their fellow Nigerians. If this ideology is changed, then fostering national integration and equality would not be a problem. We must come to terms with the fact that we all need each other, and that no ethnic group or individual is superior to another, nor should anyone or tribal group entertain the thought that certain leadership roles in Nigeria is/are their birthright.
Dear Nigerians, we are already harvesting a huge and colossal loss from the herders-farmers unhealthy clash, we must speak until the federal government wades into this matter proffering substantive solutions to the lurking food insecurity that is conspicuously imminent.
Tobechukwu Johnpaul Nwabuisi, firstname.lastname@example.org