Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev’d (Dr) Nicholas Okoh has asked the Federal Government to drop its plans to create grazing reserves for herdsmen.
Reading out the resolutions of the Diocese of Abuja Synod yesterday, the Primate warned that such decision would give unfair advantage to the Fulani over other ethnic groups and could lead to a civil war.
The prelate stressed that establishing grazing sites across the country would indirectly make them automatic indigenes of all the regions of the country.
Okoh said, “The synod hereby states unequivocally that the move to create grazing reserves for Fulani herdsmen around the country does not have our support. This is because the move treats a set of people with unwarranted special preference, making them indigenes of all regions of the country.
He said, “There have been countless isolated cases of herdsmen brutality to their host communities. These notorious activities of herdsmen are capable of dragging the country into another civil war. The Fulani herdsmen are private businessmen who take away all proceeds of the business, not sharing with either their host communities or the government.
“We wish to re-echo to the Federal Government, states and individuals involved, the recommendation already made earlier, that ranches should be built in their own localities for modern animal husbandry. In some parts of Nigeria, people are already grappling with high population growth and land does not expand. Nobody’s land should therefore be given forcefully given to anybody in any guise.
“The synod calls on the National Assembly to drop the bill on grazing reserves as it is only heating up the polity and will do no good to the herdsmen, their host communities or the government.”
The Federal Government would do well to listen to the wise counsel of the church on this matter, as grazing reserves can conflagrate the country if people feel their ethnic lands have been taken from them and given to anther ethnic group. Better to give the herdsmen loans or grants to buy land from people who will willingly sell it to them.
Giving the herdsmen funds to buy land for ranching is a very good use of the recently started multi-billion agricultural development fund.