Map of Plateau State used to demonstrate the report.

By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – Violent conflicts between herders and farmers in Plateau State have left bitter tastes in the mouths of many families. Yet to be known number of people have lost their lives and property worth millions of Naira lost.

To offer a reprieve nationwide, the federal government in 2019 inaugurated the National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP, designed to run from 2019 to 2028 and support the development of the nation’s livestock sector using seven pilot States of Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara.

Plateau State keyed into the plan by setting up the State Livestock Transformation Plan, SLTP and in 2020 signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU with two companies that would begin operations at the Wase and Kanam grazing reserves as pilot phase.

About three years after, a major stakeholder has developed cold feet, renouncing the programme, as the State leadership of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN raised the alarm over the SLTP Bill set to be passed by the State Assembly.

State Chairman of MACBAN, Muhammad Abdullahi alongside the Legal Adviser of the Association, Barr. Salisu Muhammad in a press conference in Jos, called on the Members of the State Assembly to suspend the bill.

READ : Governor Lalong sends open grazing prohibition bill to House of Assembly

According to the duo, “…Having consulted stakeholders, professionals, we unanimously reject the bill for the following reasons; the bill which provides issuance, procedures for obtaining ranching permit, ranch land lease and getting the ranch permit, the permit will be difficult for the Fulani herders to get considering the discriminatory tendencies to the Fulani herders on the Plateau.

“Our fears are centered on the offenses and penalties which is meant to rob and annihilate Fulani herders of their lawful belongings through the enactment and enforcement of the bill when it becomes law. This will cause revolt and serious breach of law and order, which the Fulani herders are afraid of citing Benue where the law is in practice.

“… we the peace loving Fulani herders wish to appeal to the Honourable Speaker and the Members of 9th Assembly to have a rethink and suspend the bill for the general interest of the State.”

Piqued by the development, the SLTP Steering Committee through its Secretary, Professor John Wade questioned the sincerity of MACBAN saying the group has been deeply involved in the processes of the implementing the plan.

He chronicled the different stages of engagement with the group in a rejoinder stating, “… The Complainants perceived the contents of the bill as obnoxious and a grand design to displace them… They averred among other things that Ranching is alien to them, capital-intensive and unaffordable; incompatibility of livestock breeds in relation to vulnerability to diseases, slow production, growth and development.”

Professor Wade observed, “The contents of the letters appeared to be full of innuendos and contradictions, which should be of concern to the Government, Legislature and general public
in the smooth implementation of its policies and programmes on peace, security and harmonious co-existence, infrastructure development and sustainable economic re-birth.

“The signatories, particularly the State Chairman, has been a stakeholder, part and parcel in contributing to this administration’s policy directives in the implementation of the widely accepted and adopted Ranching Programme.
“…The Complainants quoted Clauses 3(iii) & (viii), which prohibit open rearing and grazing, trespassing and nuisance with attendant penalties as unfavourable to them; yet ignored seven other Clauses, viz: (i), (ii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii), and (viii) that are for common good and economic benefits in terms of promoting mutual co-existence, environmental protection and husbandry.”

He noted, “The correlations with happenings in Benue State is grossly misleading and the SLTP Bill in Plateau State has been prepared to suit our peculiarities as first principle of adopting Ranching as best practice.

“…worthy of note is that the Chairman, Muhammad Abdullahi had led members of his MACBAN Executive Council to several Townhall/stakeholders’ engagements and meetings in Government House, involving Traditional Rulers, Religious (CAN and JNI) Leaders, Ethnic Nationalities, Development Associations as represented by Plateau Initiative for Development and Advancement of the Natives (PIDAN), Youth and Women Groups, The Media, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), etc., during the over three years (2017-2020) deliberations on Ranching matters. Several of such meetings were presided over by the Executive Governor himself (Attendance Registers available) …”

The Secretary added, “While it is within the rights of the MACBAN leadership to complain or make their positions clear on issues, it is imperative that they understand the grievous implications of their write-up and avoid misleading their members and the general public.

“MACBAN leadership should not continue indulging in self-contradiction or grandstanding, when clearly and evidentially they were part and parcel of unanimous submission and endorsement of Ranching, suitable to our peculiarities…”