Governors of the 19 northern states have adopted the federal government’s National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) to address the lingering herders/farmers’ clashes in the region.
The state chief executives, who held an emergency meeting under the umbrella of the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) in Kaduna, yesterday, said that when implemented, the NLTP would ensure the resettling of the dislocated populations in the key conflict zones to enable them to play major roles in the agricultural modernization scheme.
In a communiqué they read after the meeting, the chairman of NSGF and governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, said that the plan would also provide a mechanism for peaceful dialogue.
Lalong said that the forum also resolved to continue to adopt sustainable and holistic approaches towards tackling the security challenges in the region, adding that it was part of the forum’s unwavering determination to rescue the North and reposition it to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people, especially in the areas of security, economic, and social development.
The communique reads: “The Northern States Governors’ Forum convened an emergency meeting to discuss some issues of common interest particularly the development of the agricultural sector being the economic livewire of the region.
“The current challenges of insecurity which seem to be persisting despite concerted efforts by all ties of government were also deliberated based on insightful analyses and the best possible ways to address the menace which is currently bedeviling the region. Consequently, the forum resolved to continue to adopt a sustainable and holistic approach towards tackling this challenge in the region; it is the forum’s unwavering determination to rescue the region and reposition it to meet the yearnings and aspirations of our people, especially in the areas of security, economic, and social development.
“On agriculture, the forum was well informed about the National Livestock Transformation Plan and its disparities with the Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) plan.
“It is expected that the plan would ensure the resettling and addressing the dislocated populations in the key conflict zones to enable them become part of the agricultural modernisation process.
“In the same vein, it would provide a mechanism for peaceful dialogue and reconciliation in the affected communities towards a harmonious mutually beneficial future.
“The forum, therefore, adopted the National Livestock Transformation Plan which lays out clear path for modernising pastoral activities. It further encouraged other states not included as pilot states to endevour to join the plan/programme.
“The forum received brief on the Almajiri phenomenon in Northern Nigeria which is not only endemic but pandemic. It noted the challenges of the system despite its conception on high religious and moral importance.
“Currently, many children are increasingly exposed to vulnerability and resultant exploitation, thereby making them susceptible to criminal activities. The forum after in-depth discussions, resolved to collaborate further with experts in this field with a view to finding implementable recommendations to solve the Almajiri phenomenon and take children out of the streets.
“Finally, the chairman reiterated his determination to provide good leadership to the forum and to move it to greater heights,” the communique stated.
It Must Conform With Benue Ranching Law – Benue Govt
In a swift reaction to the NSGF adoption of NLTP, Benue State government said his administration would only implement it if its conforms with the state laws on ranching and anti-open grazing.
The deputy governor, Engr. Benson Abuonu, who represented Governor Samuel Ortom at the emergency meeting of the Northern governors, said: “One thing is fundamental, as far as the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan is concerned, whichever state that has keyed into the programme, will have it as its own scheme. In other words, it’s going to be owned by the state even if some help regarding the funding that is going to come from the federal government.
“And of course, it depends on whichever state is willing to key into it. But at this initial stage, there are seven states in the pilot phase but with regards to Benue, whatever is going to happen in this area of animal husbandry, that thing has to be in conformity with the local laws of the state that is in existence.
“Principally, that law says there should be no open grazing and there should be ranching of animals that anybody is going to rear. Therefore, as long as the programme is in conformity with our laws, it would be acceptable to us.” Abuono said.
Earlier In his welcome address, Lalong, said that the emergency meeting was summoned to enable the governors address some matters of urgent importance to the survival of the northern region and the well-being of its people.
Lalong disclosed that the forum would develop strategies on how best to deal with the misinformation about the NLTP, which is sometimes confused with RUGA project.
Lalong said: “My dear colleagues, it is with gratitude to Almighty God that I welcome you to this emergency meeting of our all-important forum holding here at the Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna.
“You will recall that it was in this House on 27th May, 2019 that you unanimously elected me to serve as the chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum.
“I wish to once again express my profound appreciation for the confidence reposed in me and to assure you that I have accepted this great challenge with determination to give it my all to ensure that the yearnings and aspirations of our people are realized.
“Let me also use this opportunity to thank my predecessor, Senator Kashim Shettima, the immediate past governor of Borno State and indeed all those who worked with him and before him to ensure the continuous success of the forum.
“Your Excellences, this emergency meeting has been summoned to enable us address some matters of urgent importance to the survival of our region and the well-being of our people.
“You will recall that during our last meeting, we deliberated extensively on many issues, particularly the nature of the insecurity currently bedeviling our region and how to deal with the situation,” he said.
Lalong recalled that the governors set up a committee headed Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State to inter-alia develop a comprehensive regional plan of action that could bring lasting solutions to the lingering crises.
He said that “at this meeting, we shall receive briefing from this committee and also deliberate on their findings and recommendations. Another major issue we shall also deliberate on is livestock management in the country and in particular our region, which has continued to generate discourse, controversy, misinformation and even politicization.
“You are aware of the many attempts to find lasting solutions to the incessant farmer-herder clashes, cattle rustling and associated criminalities such as banditry, kidnapping among others. At this meeting, we shall deliberate on (NLTP, which was commissioned by the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and seeks to support and strengthen the development of market-driven ranches in the livestock ecosystem for improved productivity through breed improvement, pasture production, efficient land and water utilization,” he said.
As a region that holds the comparative advantage in livestock management as an economic and socio-cultural vocation, Lalong charged the governors to come up with a common front on how to synergize and draw from the funds available for the programme and ensure that they derive maximum benefits for the people.
Lalong said that in the course of the governors’ engagements in Kaduna, they shall commission the New Nigerian Development Company (NNDC) shopping mall which was awarded in 2014 with the aim of consolidating the investment portfolio of the company and promoting its mission of advancing the commercial and industrial development of the region.