It is as interesting as it is disheartening how we run around in circles as a nation, leaving things undone, so much so that they continue to haunt us while the same people who shirked their responsibilities keep turning us against each another and we go on arguing and fighting one another over their abysmal and total absence from duty.
We have been tearing at one another on the Farmer/Herder crises and spin offs from it. Yet it happens that this is not a new or emerging challenge. As a matter of fact the issues have been identified and isolated and plans drawn to deal with them long before now.
What has happened over the years and who should we really be holding to account? Are we not chasing shadows shouting RUGA this, Fulani that?
The Fadama Development Project is jointly funded by the World Bank and African Development Fund with counterpart funding by the Federal Government of Nigeria, participating State and Local Governments.
The Fadama II was approved in December 2003, with a probable commencement date of June 2004 and project duration of 6 Years. The Project is domiciled with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. (Meanwhile for lovers of conspiracy theories, ‘FADAMA’ is simply borrowed from the Hausa language and is loosely defined as “fertile or rich land”).
Below are extracts from the FADAMA II Document which deal specifically with Livestock and intended specifically and deliberately to address the Herder/Farmer problem and associated challenges.
“3.2.4 Stock routes are broad corridors of tracks along which pastoralists herd their livestock during the dry season in search of fresh pastures and water. By law, stock routes are to be surveyed, beaconed and gazetted.
Unfortunately out of a total of 17,422 km of stock routes identified, only 750 km (less than 5%) have been beaconed but even these have not been gazetted. Of the identified stock routes, 4,765 km lie in the six ADF Fadama II beneficiary states.
The width of a stock route corridor is up to 50 meters although with growing encroachment, this width is diminishing down to zero in some places. As a consequence of this encroachment and narrowing stock routes, the herdsmen find themselves having to track their stocks through cropped Fadama lands, destroying crops, related infrastructure and equipment resulting in serious conflicts.”
“3.3.4 Nigeria has an estimated livestock population of 15.6 million cattle, 28.69 million sheep, 45.26 million goats, 5.25 million pigs, 118.59 million poultry, and about 1 million horses, camels and donkeys.
The livestock sector is estimated to contribute between 5-6% of the country’s GDP and between 15 – 20% of the agricultural GDP.
3.3.5 For livestock keepers, Fadama areas have traditionally provided access to water and dry-season fodder, which is critical for the survival of their animals.
Fadama lands are a critical resource for about two-thirds of the national cattle population or about 10 million heads of cattle, which produce annually about 150,000 tons of meat. Unfortunately, partly as a result of Fadama I not having given adequate attention to livestock farming, arable farming has seriously encroached into stock routes and traditional grazing areas.
The consequence has been increasing conflicts between pastoralists (especially transhumance herdsmen) and arable farmers.
The Principal Factors Underlying These Conflicts Include:
(i) Changing resource access rights, whereby traditional access rights to communal grazing and water resources are being obstructed by the individual tenure ship of arable farmers;
(ii) Inadequacy of grazing resources, as increasing crop cultivation (and increasing commercialization of the crop-residues) and poor management of the existing grazing reserves have resulted in a significant reduction in available livestock feed resources, especially in the Northern States;
(iii) The production of high value crops (tomatoes and onions), which produce almost no crop-residues for livestock feeding, and
iv) The fact that the regulation that about twenty percent of the Fadama area would need to be set aside for grazing (National Agricultural Policy, 1988) has not been adhered to.
This is aggravated by the declining trends in internal discipline, social cohesion, the breakdown of the authority of the traditional rulers, and increasing rent seeking by the modern and traditional authorities in managing access to resources.”
“4.5.16 As explained in paragraph 3.2.4, stock routes are ordinary tracks used by pastoralists and livestock. The project will finance, on a demonstration basis, the surveying, demarcation (beaconing) and gazetting of at least one stock route per state to be selected on the basis of severity of conflicts and readiness of the concerned communities to cooperate in this regard.
Priority initially will be given to the state of Katsina that has already in place a committee on resource user conflict management committee.
Specifically, the project will finance the establishment of resting points at intervals of 100 km; construction of watering points (18), veterinary clinics, grazing grounds and supplementary feed storage facilities.
4.5.17 Furthermore, to minimize the risk of conflicts between arable farmers and pastoralists, the project will finance, on a demonstration basis, at least 18 grazing reserves along stock routes, three per state. It will also finance the rehabilitation of about 3,000 hectares of existing grazing reserves.
The rehabilitation works will include demarcation (beaconing) and gazetting of the reserves and provision of 10 watering points (one per 300 hectares of grazing reserve), with placement of the watering points depending on the hydro-geological conditions in the area.”
Reading through the above, it is clearly deducible that:
1. The Herder/Farmer issues and related security challenges we face today did not come upon us suddenly like a thief in the night. They were envisaged, causes and aggravators identified and possible solutions proffered long before now.
2. If the proffered solutions were responsibly and diligently implemented and followed through, we would have move further down the road to solving this challenge and we surely won’t be dealing with it at the scale we are today.
3. Our leaders and involved civil servants over the years have shirked their responsibilities and kicked the can down the road and it won’t be surprising to know that corruption is involved.
4. There is nothing untoward or abnormal that the Buhari Administration is doing to warrant the attacks and accusation of a hidden agenda. On the contrary he is showing commitment and the political to confront a problem that successive administrations before him have only kicked down the road.
The same thing he is doing with our Roads, Rails, Bridges, Pensions, Power etc.
It is for reasons like these that I have continued to passionately urge us the citizens to take these issues above pedestrian, beer parlor banters and divisive and diversionary gerrymandering by politicians, some of whom are the same people who have successively failed in their responsibilities to solve the same problems when they had the duty to do so.
This Fadama II Project highlighted above which had lofty and clear plans to address the Farmer/Herder issues among others was initiated in 2004 with implementation period of 6 years (2004 – 2010). Who was in charge of the nation during that period? What was achieved? Where are the funds? Who is held accountable?
Generations of humans over time are known to solve problems and thus bequeath a better society to future generations.
What would our generation bequest to our children, borne and unborn?
What problems would we have solved?
Or do we intend to pass on this Herder/farmer crises that was worsened by our sheer irresponsibility and negligence over the years and explain to them that we spent years and decades bickering and promoting phantom theories of Fulanization, Islamization and Christianization built on mutual mistrust and bigotry?
Let us make hay while the sun shines. Let us come together, interrogate those who were given responsibilities over the years and failed and show those in charge today that we are united and wiser now and shall no longer be distracted and deceived.
With our enhanced support and trust, I am confident the present administration will begin to solve this problem and others because the person at the helm is well intended.
I sincerely hope we do not sacrifice this golden opportunity to set our nation aright under Muhammadu Buhari on the altar of toxic partisan and ethno-religious manipulations.
God Bless Nigeria….