The Northern Elders Forum has criticised the Federal Government for failing to decisively address the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country.
Elders in the forum also blamed the government for failing to evolve a nationwide transition programme for herdsmen to embrace ranching as a solution to the persistent clashes.
They spoke about the problem — which has led to the loss of lives, the destruction of property and displacement of Nigerians in several parts of the country — at an extraordinary session with the Benue State Governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, in Markurdi.
The Spokesperson of the Forum, Mr Mustapha Wali, said, “The Federal government, I must say, has failed in intervening in sorting out these matters nationwide. All you hear are conferences and seminars of academics but the practical, applicable and interventionist stage as it is happening now, is what should have been the case.
“Now that Benue has taken the bull by the horn as they say, we have to put a proposition for capital intensive possibilities for this transitional situations where the herdsmen are taught to ranch and to know that they are bitter times during transition and, therefore, the Federal Government cannot avoid the responsibility of coming in to assist all the states and harmonise all these problems.
“It is in this respect, as the convener has stated, that we now intend to set-up a special intervention committee for the purposes of intervening in this kind of situations; the transitional and legal situations to ensure there are no problems that will arise which are fully avoidable.”
The elders asked the Federal Government to among other things address all the inter-ethnic issues between farmers and herdsmen in the north for peace to reign.
Governor Samuel Ortom in an attempt to mobilize support for the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Bill 2017, urged leaders in the region to speak up and find solution to the raging herdsmen/farmers conflict.
“Our leaders have chosen to keep quiet and it is something that to me, is a keg of gun-powder and we need to arise to our responsibilities as leaders to check this problem, the problem of herdsmen and farmers.”
“Benue State in particular, was under siege since 2012, 13 Local Government were completely displaced out of Twenty Three local government, including my own local government”.
“While serving as a minister, my ancestral home was attacked and destroyed and that day alone, 53 of my people were murdered in cold blood, my farm was razed and destroyed”.