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Jega-led committee, Kebbi, others demand livestock ministry



Attahiru Jega

This was part of the 21 recommendations contained in a document submitted to President Bola Tinubu to enhance the Federal Government’s holistic response to the lingering cases of bloodshed.

Former Kano State Governor and Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Chairman Abdullahi Ganduje, disclosed this to State House Correspondents shortly after he led the committee in an audience with the President at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

The committee’s recommendation was backed by Kebbi and Gombe States which described the ministry as the solution to the violent clashes between the pastoralists and farmers.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, recently stated that over 60,000 Nigerians had been killed as a result of the incessant clashes between herders and farmers.

The Jega-led committee in its recommendations spelt the details of the proposed solutions where the committee advocated a reform agenda on conflict mitigation and resource management.

It stated, “This agenda should include the establishment and resuscitation of grazing reserves as suggested by many experts and well-meaning Nigerians and other methods of land utilisation.

“Create the Ministry of Livestock Resources in line with practice in many other West African countries. In the alternative, Federal and State Governments should expand the scope of existing Departments of Livestock Production to address the broader needs of the industry.’’

Ganduje, who explained the complexity of the challenge, explained that the government’s approach must address four kinds of herders: those who settle at home, nomadic herdsmen traversing the country, those from neighbouring West African countries as well as those who have settled among certain ethnic tribes and indigenized.

He lamented that the sector’s low productivity had made Nigeria import-dependent, draining scarce foreign reserves for importing dairy, meat, and other livestock products.

Similarly, he said the conflicts are resulting in killings of citizens and loss of livelihoods, further affecting peaceful coexistence in the country.

The ex-Kano state governor said, “It is gratifying to lead this team of patriotic Nigerians and experts in various fields of human endeavour before Mr. President to present the national conference report on Livestock reforms.

“The report grew out of the urgent need to reform and develop the livestock industry and to provide solutions to the age-long conflicts between herders and farmers in Nigeria.

“But to find the solution to achieve the desired goals, you’ll need a strong institution. We recommended the establishment of the Ministry of Livestock and subsequent agencies so that various aspects of the recommendations will have appropriate institutions for implementation.”

He noted that the committee also recommended a funding source, including inflows from international organisations, the private sector and the government.

On the outcome of the meeting, Ganduje said President Tinubu assured them of his readiness to consider the recommendation and provide fitting solutions.

“The answer we got is that Mr President is ready to provide the solution to these problems, especially pertaining to the economy of the livestock and then the security aspects of the herders-farmers’ conflict,” the APC chairman explained.

At the meeting, he told the President that Nigeria’s increasing population, ecological changes such as soil erosion, degradation of grazing areas, and changing climates necessitate adopting innovative crops and livestock production practices.

The APC leader also informed Tinubu that the report submitted to him holds the antidote to the problems of the livestock industry, adding, “It addresses the key reforms and presents various development options needed for the sustainable development of the sector.”

Ganduje said that implementing the proposals will enhance productivity, improve livelihoods, promote environmental conservation, address substantial causes of conflicts between farmers and pastoralists, and help reduce the high cost of imports of animal products like milk and beef.

He said as Kano State governor, his administration deliberately promoted the modernisation of livestock production while strengthening local authorities to manage relationships and amicably resolve conflicts between the groups.

“For this reason, Kano State remained among the most peaceful States in the country throughout our eight years of governance,” he affirmed.

The committee included members from the organised private sector, academia, practising pastoralists and farmers, representatives of farming and pastoralist communities, civil society organisations and specialists in various fields of livestock development and conflicts management.

Present were the Vice Chairman of the committee, Prof Jibrin Amin, Managing Director, The Guardian Newspaper, Mr. Martins Oloja; former Secretary to the Niger State Government, Prof Muhammed Kuta; Executive Secretary, National Commission for Nomadic Education, Prof Bashir Usman; Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kabiru Ibrahim; Rabe Mani and Winnie Solarin, among others.

The Kebbi State government confirmed its readiness to set up a ministry of livestock following the recommendation of the Jega committee.

The spokesman to the governor, Ahmed Idris, said it was the antidote to the perennial clashes between farmers and herders.

Idris in his response said “Yes. If it will be the only remedy to solve so many crisis”

The Permanent Secretary, Gombe State Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Dr Ibrahim Yakubu, noted that the state government was already implementing a similar recommendation.

The Zamfara State Commissioner for Information, Munnir Haidara, said the state government would welcome any programme introduced by the Federal Government if it would assist in bringing to an end the banditry activities in the country.

Haidara stressed that the state government would support any developmental project of the FG targeted at moving the country forward.