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August 17, 2018

HERDSMEN/FARMERS CLASHES: FG to establish “Cattle Colonies”

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…It’s Fulani colonization – group

In a bid to find a permanent solution to farmers/herders bloody clashes, the Federal Government is planning to set up “cattle colonies” in the country to assist Fulani herdsmen in rearing their cows. The government had earlier proposed ranches.

Government assured landowners of adequate compensation for their land that could be acquired to establish such ‘cattle colonies.’

This assurance came at the end of a five-hour Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, the first in the year.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, in response to State House Correspondents inquiries after the meeting, about how the proposed colonies would come about, explained that a colony is much more bigger than a ranch and had been in operation since 1914, until the nation’s population grew and most of the designated routes were converted to farmland.

Asked to explain modalities for the colonies, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said although he is not an agriculture expert, he knows that “a colony is much bigger in nature than a ranch.”

Sirika, who offered to give more explanation, said the colonies will not be too different from the old practice of reserving certain areas for cattle grazing, for which original land owners would be compensated.

“I am not speaking as an agricultural expert but growing up in the hinterlands, I know there used to be cattle routes – we call them “burtali” in local language. This was established by the Federal Government in 1914. It is a designated route where they (cattle) follow, feed, graze, drink water. When that one was available, there was no farmer/herdsmen clash because the routes are specific, identified and mapped and are paid for in compensation over time.

“But I think due to development and increase in population these routes are either captured or converted to farms.

“The question of colony or grazing land or whatever name they are called is about the same thing really. I don’t think government will do anything without recourse to owners of farm lands and laws of the land.”

The minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh had disclosed earlier at a special security meeting with five governors and security chiefs that “government is planning a programme called cattle colonies where, at least, five thousand hectares of land, adequate water, adequate pasture would be made available. This will stop cattle rearers from roaming about…”

However, Benue indigenes in Abuja have condemned the idea of “Cattle Colonies” describing it as “colonization” of their land by the Fulani. They told AIT on Wednesday that, “We were once colonized by the British. Now we won’t tolerate Fulani colonization.”



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