The Southeast zonal chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) says it is not against the ban on open grazing of cattle in the southern part of the country.
But in a statement on Tuesday, Gidado Siddiki, the zonal chairman of MACBAN, said the southern governors may have taken the decision due to the exigencies of the time, adding that no one should vilify them.
Siddiki, however, requested that a middle course be negotiated to avoid the abrupt stoppage of open grazing, preparatory to the commencement of better and modern methods of cattle rearing.
The MACBAN chairman said such a move would douse the tension that has been generated by the decision across the country.
“I do not think we should be quick in rising to condemn the governors over this decision, but rather engage them constructively for the good of all,” Siddiki said.
“The growing suggestions for improved and more modern mode of livestock keeping could be well taken, but a middle course needs to be quickly negotiated in the interim.”
The MACBAN chairman called for the provision of grazing reserves, stock routes, watering points, health and education facilities as interim measures.
According to him, this will reassure law-abiding herders of their constitutional rights to live and trade anywhere in the country, as well as guarantee the safety of their lives and property.
Siddiki said it is the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order, adding that MACBAN had always enjoined statutory security agencies not to shirk from such responsibilities.
“The herders, due to the nature of cattle rearing, are more on transit and are equally exposed to the wanton camp infiltration by often migrant fellows who are criminally-minded,” he said.
“These infiltrators do not spare the law-abiding herders, and for their lawless acts, the entire herders, unfortunately, suffer odium.
“However, no singular group ought to be blamed for the failure of a system to protect and preserve the essence of its being.”
He noted that “the law-abiding herders” had, for years, lived harmoniously with members of their host communities in parts of the country.
“However, the awry activities of some migrant herders have recently provoked unhealthy suspicion against people that have for ages enjoyed the warmth of their neighbourhood,” he said.
“There is, therefore, need for a functional engagement to deconstruct the growing hate narrative against our people.”
Siddiki noted that the country seems to be in one of its most trying moments in terms of insecurity and mutual suspicion, but added that “this period demands the highest level of sincerity, justice and selfless commitment to the oneness of Nigeria”.
“It is a time that requires purposeful leadership in order to survive the rough challenges,” he added.