President Muhammadu Buhari has faulted the position taken by Southern Governors' Forum to ban open grazing in their states, saying the legality of their position is questionable.
The president, according to a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu, had approved a number of specific measures to bring a permanent end to the frequent skirmishes as recommended by Alhaji Sabo Nanono, the minister of agriculture in a report he submitted and the president signed off on it back in April.
Part of the statement reads: "It is equally true that their (Southern governors') announcement is of questionable legality, given the constitutional right of all Nigerians to enjoy the same rights and freedoms within every one of our 36 states (and FCT) regardless of the state of their birth or residence."
The president, therefore, expressed a strong resolve to address herders-farmers conflict in a sustained and lasting manner that should lead to the emergence of a permanent solution to the frequent clashes between them.
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His plan, he said, will address the associated problem of the gun-wielding "killer herdsmen."
Shehu said this plan was in the works before the decision of Southern Governors' Forum to place a ban on open grazing and other acts of politicking intended by its signatories to demonstrate their power.
He said it was very clear that there was no solution offered from the southern governors' resolutions to the herder-farmer clashes which had been in the country for generations.
Shehu said, "But the citizens of the southern states - indeed citizens of all states of Nigeria - have a right to expect their elected leaders and representatives to find answers to challenges of governance and rights, and not to wash their hands off hard choices by, instead, issuing bans that say: "not in my state."
Shehu said the president's plan is to resuscitate and modernise grazing reserves in consenting states, starting next month (June).
"Fortunately, this declaration has been preempted, for whatever it is intended to achieve, and Mr. President, who has rightly been worried about these problems more than any other citizen, in consultation with farmers and herders alike, commissioned and approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves in the states, starting with those that are truly committed to the solution and compliant with stated requirements.
"With veterinary clinics, water points for animals, and facilities for herders and their families including schooling - through these rehabilitated reserves, the federal government is making far-reaching and practical changes, allowing for different communities to co-exist side-by-side; supporting farmers to till their fields, herders to rear their livestock and Nigerians everywhere to be safe.
"The entire country is acutely aware of the strain the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on public finances, for both Federal and States. Still, given the pressing urgency of addressing the perennial challenges, the federal funding for the project that has been delayed is now being partly unlocked. Actual work for the full actualization of the modern reserve system in a few of the consenting states should take off in June," he said.