A call on herdsmen to relocate to Kano the other day by Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje may have sounded incredibly simplistic but it should be viewed as a strategic solution as well as a timely challenge to the federal government which appears clueless and is fixated on an impossible mission called “cattle colonies” within a federation.
The Kano State Governor had called on all herdsmen in some parts of the country, especially in Benue and Taraba states, to relocate to Kano State where he said he had, “vast grazing land to accommodate herdsmen and their cattle”.
The governor stated this during the monitoring of the state’s “free vaccination of over one million cattle and other small animals” at Kadawa Artificial Insemination Centre in the Garum Malam Local Government Area of the state.The exercise titled, ‘Towards Conservation of Livestock Resource and Animal Protein for Citizens of Kano,’ was part of activities marking the 2017/2018 livestock vaccination programme in the state on.
Ganduje, who condemned the “recent killings during the clashes between farmers and herdsmen,” said they were unacceptable.The governor said the vaccination was initiated to keep animals healthy and improve the economy of the state. He said as part of the government’s commitment to encouraging herdsmen in the state, Kano State had been providing facilities that would accommodate the herdsmen and their cattle to discourage them from moving to other states in search of grazing land.
The governor said: “Fulani herdsmen of Kano origin do not move out of Kano to other states because we have enough grazing land, ranches and traditional stock route. They don’t have any reason to move out of the state. We take care of them and we accord them the respect and dignity they deserve.“I am inviting herdsmen from all parts of Nigeria to relocate to Kano because we have enough facilities to accommodate them. We have grazing land in Rogo, Gaya, Kura, Tudun Wada, Ungogo and other places, where facilities have been provided to accommodate the herdsmen and their cattle.”
The governor also disclosed that his administration was already in collaboration with the Federal Government and foreign agencies to convert the Falgore Game Reserve into a modern grazing land.The governor also noted that the Falgore Game Reserve could take care of millions of herdsmen and their cattle in Nigeria. The location has been designed to accommodate schools, human and animal clinics, markets, recreational centres and other social amenities that would provide the herdsmen enough comfort to take care of their animals and transact their business without any hindrance.
“These killings must stop. We cannot afford to continue to witness these senseless killings in the name of Fulani herdsmen and farmers clash over lack of grazing land when we have a place like the Falgore Game Reserve, which is being under-utilised.”Ganduje also said his administration had embarked on the registration of herdsmen and their cattle to enable the government take care of them through free vaccination and other incentives.
It is curious that since the strategic call from Kano State Governor, the federal government that has appeared clueless has not responded. What is more, the disclosure by the Ganduje that there are grazing facilities in the state for even herdsmen from other states in the North confirms what some agriculture experts have been saying that most states have only failed to preserve the grazing reserves that had been available from time immemorial. Besides, Ganduje’s plan is a reinforcement of the popular consensus that the idea of “cattle colonies” is undesirable and should give way to an idea whose time has come: federalism.
Therefore, the governors who have been jumping unto the bandwagon of “cattle colonies” even without obtaining the enabling laws from their States’ Houses of Assembly should read the example of Kano very carefully. What is discernible from the state is that developing a working grazing land goes far beyond mere allocation of hectares plots of land. It is capital -intensive. And it won’t happen hastily. It should also be noted that Kano State Government has only preserved and maintained what the state has always had. This is an indictment of most other states that have lost their grazing facilities that the erstwhile regional government developed in the area.
Meanwhile, the herdsmen in most neighbouring states to Kano should embrace the hand of fellowship graciously extended to them and begin negotiation for relocating to Kano state. And the Minister of Agriculture and Rural development, Audu Ogbe, who has been in the forefront of developing the unworkable “cattle colonies” and tracing of colonial grazing routes across the country should visit Kano to see the facilities in many local governments in the state. If the federal government fails to avail itself of this experience, then it would have itself to blame.
The Kano State example should be embraced as a starting point to learn how to manage a peculiar mess called Cattle Rearing, ordinarily a private enterprise that has been largely mismanaged and has curiously assumed a national security challenge.