This article is part of our #FirstWord series to provide context on trending news.
The struggle for access and control of lands, over which roaming herdsmen graze their cattle, has led to conflict with local farmers and residents all over the country. This has resulted in the death of hundreds and destruction of farmlands.
Between January and April alone, herdsmen were responsible for 217 civilian attacks which left over 1350 people killed.
Crackdown on violent herdsmen
President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday, 25th August 2018, gave orders to Nigerian troops to be ruthless in the battle against cattle rustlers, bandits, and kidnappers in the country. The president spoke to troops deployed to Zamfara and neighbouring states.
While urging them to keep up the good work in the results achieved in dealing with the affected states, he placed emphasis on the need to restore peace to Nigerians.
“Nigerians are looking up to you and us to secure the country. What is happening in the areas of operations are disgraceful. I’m very pleased with the way officers and men are firmly putting it down and I want you to be as ruthless as humanly possible. Nigerians deserve some peace” – Muhammadu Buhari
Cattle colony initiative
Beyond intervention from security forces, the Federal Government has to work out grazing alternatives for herders to dissuade them from trespassing into farmlands and causing friction with local communities.
At the moment, as a measure to end the crisis, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has tried to implement an initiative that involves rearing cattle in colonies that are controlled by the Federal Government.
According to Audu Ogbeh, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, cattle colonies are a combination of several ranches where 20 to 30 ranchers can share the same colony.
The Ministry has implored state governments to sign up for the initiative because it addresses the needs of cattle herders by providing resources to care for their cattle while avoiding unnecessary conflicts over economic resources between them and farmers.