By: MOHAMMED KAWU, Bauchi
Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has advocated for the review of the Land Use Act to provide for the democratization of land management and involvement of communities in land use.
According to the centre, the land doesn’t exclusively belong to state governors but citizens of the country, hence its management and the way it is use should involve communities or citizens.
CITAD Executive Director, Ya’u Zakariyya Ya’u while fielding journalists question on constant farmer/herder clashes in the country, attributed it to three factors namely climate change, population expansion, and lack of incentive by the government to monitor cattle routes and collect taxes (Jangali).
The centre chief executive told the press in Bauchi Wednesday that the farmer/herder conflict is the crisis of agrarian agriculture with subsistence husbandry in which the two are competing for same land.
According to him, the farmer/herder conflicts have been going on for many years now, as it happened in Bauchi North in 1995 where many people were killed and several villages set ablaze, moved to Yobe in 1996, Jigawa in 1997, then Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, before it reared its ugly heads in the South East.
Describing the Land Use Act as constitutional provision that vested lands into the hands of state governors who dish it out anyhow with attendant corrupt practices, the centre noted with concern that proposing cattle ranch or colony means opening up Pandora of land speculations and corruption.
Ya’u expressed dismay that instead of encouraging dialogue to resolve farmer/herder conflicts, government simply waits until it spread into violence confrontations, and remain unresolved while it continues to boomerang.
He also attributed the farmer/herder clash to the lack of incentive for controlling cattle movement following the abolishment in the second republic by the PRP governments in Kano and Kaduna the collection of Taxes (Jangali), and subsequently its abolishment nationwide by the then ruling NPN for fear of losing elections.
“During the colonial rule, government has the incentive of monitoring the cattle routes, collecting ‘Jangali’ taxes and monitoring the herder following clearly demarcated cattle routes, providing water points to them and veterinary support while collecting the taxes”, Ya’u stated.
The director also noted that the herder-farmer conflict is a complex problem of land use resources compounded by climate change, hence the need for addressing the challenge of climate change by re-grassing all barren lands in parts of the country.
“We have hundreds of departments of agriculture in our universities, polytechnic and so forth and this is not something they were doing at the country’s policy levels”, he argued.
Y.Z. Ya’u then queried, “What happened to the good relationship that existed before between the farmers and herders where herders wait for farmers to clear their produce for the cattle to eat the remnants, and the droppings become fertilizer on the farmlands”.
He recalled that in some instances the herder assist the farmer evacuate his produce before putting their cattle into the farmland which was not happening now, saying that was the basis of long history of joking relationship between the Fulanis and Tivs people in the past and which now become a war relationship.
“There is also what we call de-herdernization which is to say you see a lot of Fulanis but the cattle they attend to do not belong to them, but for the honourables, senators, permanent secretaries in Abuja and various state capitals”.
Ya’u similarly expressed concern aboutlaxity on the part of government in Nigeria to handle the matter, saying about 30% of the animals Nigerians consume are coming from Niger Republic, but you hardly hear farmer/herder clash in that country.