A former Secretary to the Niger State government and Professor of Agriculture with the University of Ibadan, Prof. Mohammed Yahaya Kuta has said the Nigerian government must take the lead in the process of addressing constant farmers and herders clashes that is threatening the peaceful coexistence of the country.
Prof. Kuta who was Chairman of the opening session of the National Summit on Conflict Resolution organized by The Nation newspapers and TVC in Abuja said the government should take practical steps to demonstrate its commitment to putting an end to such conflicts.
He said if the government is interested in having ranches for herders, it should begin by putting something on the ground for the herders to see, pointing out that if ranching can be successful in other countries, there was no reason why it can not succeed in Nigeria.
Prof. Kuta said over 80 percent of the Nigerian land mass are currently untilised while less than 20 percent is being utilized.
He said “Government must take the lead in terms of demonstration. Whatever we want to achieve at the end of this, there must be sign post.
If you want ranches to come up, why not demonstrate where these herders can see that there is an innovation.
“We should have a place they can see because like the saying goes, seen is believing. We have seen how it has worked in other climes.
Botswana is a leading light in terms of the success story, Namibia is another success story, South Africa is another leading light.
“So, why can’t it happen in Nigeria which unarguably the largest nation, with the largest land mass, with the largest potentials of agriculture and arable land for crop production.
“Why is it that less than 20 percent of this land is utilized. How do we do something in terms of pastoral development and ranching as well as animals so that this country will stake the lead again and transform the people positively so that the people will be better of.”
He said further that “world Summit on Communication concluded that Communication is about people and people are very critical mass in human development and therefore, communication initiatives makes the difference. So, we must commend you for adding your voice to the ongoing conversation on conflict mitigation and resolution.
“Within this year alone, the sir Ahmad Bello memorials Foundation has organised two sessions with different stakeholders on the same subject matter and concluded that the ongoing conversation must continue until we get to the end of the matter.
“So, for you to bring all these stakeholders together as concern people to come and talk about the subject matter especially given the climate of herders farmers conflict is commendable.
He stressed that in all discussions and meeting to resolve farmers and herders clashes in the country so far, Agriculture Extension workers have not been included, adding that these are the critical stakeholder that should be carried along in the entire process.
“But there is a missing link. When discussion about agriculture takes place, those agriculture extension workers are always missing and those are the key stakeholders. They are well trained in the act and principle and strategies of relating with the key actors.
“So, next time when discussions on this are taking place, agriculture extension must be given priority so that we will not continue to talk to ourselves without the real professionals who will help bring about the desired result.”