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With George Daniya

Incessant conflicts between farmers and herdsmen had led to the wanton destruction of lives and property in Nigeria; the North Central Nigeria has been in the epic centre of the bloodletting.

Governor Abubakar Sani Bello believes that there was the need to have proper control of grazing reserves across the country, as that will guarantee sustainable peace between farmers and herdsmen.

Bello maintained that the restoration of grazing reserves and making them functional are relevant for the search for peace in the face of the recurring hostilities between the pastoralists and farmers.

 As a man of peace, Bello believes that, to have a lasting peace, sustainable and peaceful co-existence between farmers and herdsmen; bringing back grazing reserves in the country, will ensure that the crises end for good.

 The governor said that it is not all about creating the reserves but a proper control and monitoring should be employed in order to avoid abuse.

 “We need to sensitize the herdsmen that the land is not for them, but a government reserve given to them per time to enable them rear their animals,” he said.

  Governor Bello is happy with the return of the reserves by the government and his administration is determined to finding lasting solution to the recurring face-off between farmers and the herdsmen in the state following the reactivation of old Bobi Grazing Reserve, in Mariga Local Government area of the state.

 Last week, Governor Bello gave his assurance on sustainable peace between the farmers and herdsmen when he hosted Reverend Phyllis Sortor, the Director, Schools for Africa, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)working for peaceful co-existence between the herdsmen and their host communities in his office in Minna, the state capital.

 He said his administration was committed to the peaceful co-existence of all the people living in the state, and expressed the readiness of the state to collaborate with the civil societies on how to ensure conflict resolution and sustainable peace between the farmers and the herdsmen.

 “The governor is pleased with the efforts of the NGO at ensuring peace among the two oppositions  and the counsel it has intensified on the sensitization and education of the herdsmen and farmers.

 “It has been a tug of war between the herdsmen and farmers, as fault has not been one-sided, both the farmers and herdsmen are equally guilty in one way or the other.

“It is either the farmlands or the grazing reserves have been encroached upon by both parties leading to clashes from either side.

“Very annoying conflicts, I remember sometime this year, there was a serious outbreak of clash between the farmers and herdsmen around Sabon Daga and Garatu areas of Bosso LGA. It was in January. It was not good at all, as farm produce were destroyed. I could even smell burnt fresh yams. It led to the farmers to flee their homes and the herdsmen too in that locality took to their heels. This is not really good.

“It is a shame that people who have been co-existing for over a period of time will allow issues to make them carry dagger against each other. No, this is certainly not the way to go.

“I have a strong conviction that Governor Bello will nail the farmers/herdsmen crises; with the commitment he has shown, the conflict will be eliminated”.

The director, Schools for Africa, Reverend Phyllis Sortie was accompanied by some Fulani leaders from the defunct Bobi Grazing Reserve, and was seeking for government intervention in the indiscriminate encroachment of the reserve and lack of functional infrastructure in the area.

 She said that, up to 90 per cent of the 30,350 hectares of the grazing reserve is being encroached, adding that the development had forced the herdsmen to move out thousands of cows out of the reserve to the eastern part of the country.

 Sortie then assured the governor of her NGO’s resolve to provide additional teachers, medical interventions, promote household training and support teams at the reserve if government expedite action for the reactivation of the grazing reserve, as this is the way to go by an NGO, not everything should be left to government alone.

 However, there are still communities that are co-existing; rallying each other to quench anything that arises if there is any breach of peace”.