President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said his administration was committed to finding lasting solutions to farmers/herders’ clashes and appealed for tolerance among cattle herders and farmers throughout the country.
The president stated this when he received the leaders of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) on a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The president appealed for calm among all citizens, saying that his government would give equal respect to all citizens irrespective of their ethnic, religious and geopolitical backgrounds.
“I appeal to all farmers and herders for restraint, mutual respect and tolerance for one another as people destined to live together in this great country.
“I appeal for patience and understanding as the administration works toward lasting solutions to these conflicts.”
Buhari also urged the herders to support him in the task of bringing lasting peace to the country.
He called on state governors to work with the minister of agriculture, whom he said, had been mandated to work out a solution with the states by which herders would have access to water for their livestock “and farmers will have security against destruction of their farmlands’’.
He attributed part of the conflict between the two groups to the climate change phenomenon and population explosion, but expressed regret about the politicization by selfish individuals who did not mean well for the country.
He emphasised that this conflict was neither religious nor ethnic, but one that his administration had foreseen and was warned about.
“Before the Benue and Taraba crises, I called the Minister of Agriculture and the Governor of Central Bank and asked them to work with the state governors on rediscovering the gazette cattle routes, clear of farmlands that had made for peace during the First Republic,’’ he said.
Buhari expressed strong confidence that a way around the problem would be found, “in working with the states which have important role to play in finding a lasting solution.’’
“Whatever it will take, I am determined to bring peace between farmers and herders. I urge you all to be patient and exercise restraint while we are working for an enduring solution.’’
The leader of MACBAN, Alhaji Mohammed Kiruwa had informed the president that the 20-million strong body had sent the delegation to endorse his bid for a second term of office on account of the administration’s achievements in office.
He listed the achievements to include the successful clampdown on kidnapping and cattle rustling as well as the fight against terrorism and corrupt elements in the society.
Kiruwa said Buhari’s personal qualities of honesty, integrity and his unparalleled commitment to the unity and progress of the nation also informed his association’s support for a renewal of his tenure.