President Muhammadu Buhari says his government plans to revive cattle grazing routes and grazing areas set across the country in the 1960s.
This is in opposition to the open grazing ban announced by the 17 southern governors in May declaring a ban on open grazing, asking the mainly Fulani herders to practise a settled form of livestock production to control their incessant violent conflicts with farmers and host communities over resources.
“I have asked to dig up gazettes of the First Republic,” Buhari said in his Arise TV interview aired on Thursday morning, referring to the documents that in the 1960s set hundreds of routes and areas for free range cattle grazing across the country.
The routes traverse Nigeria’s states and neighbouring countries, thereby allowing foreign herders to seasonally explore Nigeria for pasture. But the foreigners have been blamed for being particularly violent, a point the president also made in his interview. However, indigenous herders also fight with farmers over access to shrinking resources amid growing population and need for land.
“There are cattle routes and grazing areas,” the president further said. “You have to stay there and if you allow your cattle to stray into another person’s farm you will be arrested.”
He added that “the routes and the areas are known,” and warned that encroachers “will be dispossessed.”
Cattle routes, as well as grazing areas, are facilities to enable nomadic pastoralism and open grazing, instead of a settled form of animal production that allows the herders to be sedentary and practise within a defined property to avoid frictions with farmers.