Kogi State Government has disclosed that the philosophy behind the establishment of cattle colonies was to curtail movement of the cattle herdsmen and enhance security of lives and property in the country.
The Director-General, Kogi Information Services and Grassroots Sensitization, Mr Abdulkarim Abdulmalik, disclosed this in an interview with the newmen in Lokoja.
Abdulkarim said the general principle of the cattle colonies was to check criminalities and mayhem arising from Herdsmen/farmers’ clashes.
He explained that Fulanis were cohabiting with people in various communities and doing their businesses without hindrance but the major problem was the itinerant herdsmen who migrate from one place to another with their cattle courting hostilities and devour farm produce with impunity.
The Director General said government felt it was better to tame and curtail their movement rather than leave them to move around all over the place and cause a lot of menace in the various communities they cross.
“Government said let them have a designated place where they would be restricted with their animals whereby they would not be able to move beyond the designated place and if they do and anything happens they would be liable.”
He regretted that some members of the public had misconstrued the position of government to check the wanton shed of innocent blood through the creation of the restrictive colonies.
Abdulmalik said those against creation of cattle colonies deliberately or ignorantly misunderstood the position of the Government to integrate the nomads in the traditional structure with their leaders’ involvement at the community, local Government and State levels.
“Hence if there is any problem there is a line of communication through which they could be resolved. If we don’t integrate them, they are still passing by and they are destroying your products it becomes more difficult for us to do anything.
“So, we have to be broad-minded and look at the issues rationally with opened mind. We need them, they need us and they are of some economic benefit to us just as we are to them. All that is needed is for us to look at the nagging problem areas.
“The ranch system is as old as before the old republic, Obudu Cattle Ranch was established in the 50s by Sir Ahmadu Bello with similar purpose as the colony but was not improved upon.
“If we buy into the State Government’s proposal we would have started the process of modernising the rearing of cattle. All that is needed is to appreciate the wisdom in the policy”, he said.
The State Government plans to convey an expansive stakeholders meeting next week. The meeting would involve the traditional rulers, the Miyetti Allah group, the local Government leaders, top Government officials, youth leaders, religious leaders and organisations.
On the issue of land ownership and the aversion to ceding land to the Fulanis for the purpose of the colonies and ranches, Abdulmalik said there was so much land in the state and the country that would, very likely, not be put to use in the next hundred years.
The Director-General said government would also come up with a law on the minimum age for the pastoralists to tend their cattle adding that the law would curtail the present practice of allowing juveniles to tend a large number of cattle.
“The Fulani herdsmen may not even be happy now with the colony idea because they are used to roving around but the Government cannot fold its hands and allow this mayhem to continue everywhere in the Society.