The South West Progressive Youth and People Movement (SWPYPM), a civil society group, has asked the federal government to convert Sambisa forest into a cattle colony.
The group made the call at a press briefing jointly organised with Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER), Civil Coalition for Mandate Protection (CSC-MAP) and South West Students Movement (SWSM), in Lagos on Wednesday.
According to Taiwo Ajayi, national coordinator of SWPYPM, Sambisa forest which is located in Borno state, is a prime location that would meet the needs of cattle herders.
Ajayi said the landmass of the forest is large enough to house over 340 million cattle.
“We cannot afford to waste the entire Sambisa forest, herdsmen can take their cows there,” he said.
“Sambisa is a very large place that can house 340 million cows, they should make very productive use of that place instead of allowing Boko Haram people to stay there.”
Ajayi also expressed dissatisfaction with the response of President Muhammadu Buhari to herdsmen crisis.
“If he (Buhari) has given immunity to cattle, cows and the herdsmen, he should let us know,” he said.
“We don’t know why he cannot call them to order. The presidency should look into the issue as a matter of urgency and give it the desired urgent attention required.”
Adewale Adeoye, executive director, JODER, said government should act fast to end violent killings in the country.
“As a journalist that has covered conflict over several years, I know that this is how a country can plunge into another Rwanda,” he said.
“So if we don’t rise up to the occasion, we will have a big problem on our hands. Already people are dying like chicken. Nobody is talking about probing the issue, so at our own level as a civil society group, we said we should speak out. At least that is the best we can do since we’re not armed.”
Taiwo Adeleye, executive director, CSC-MAP, asked the federal government to look into the “cold-blooded killings” that have marred the peace in Nigeria for many years.
In his words, “the federal government has demonstrated a clear case of cold complicity as indicated in the various statements credited to the most important officials occupying some of the most strategic security institutions”.
“Civil society was in support of President Buhari in 2015,” he continued.
“It is not too late for him to change…to regain the dwindling public confidence in his administration.”
Peter Ogunsona, public relations officer of the South West Students Movement, said the body had held meetings with student union presidents of some universities in the south-west.
Ogunsona said the student unions have reached a consensus that they will not vote for the current administration in the 2019 elections if nothing is done about the Fulani herdsmen crisis.
“Youths of nowadays are fed up, nothing is even working,” he said.
“If you are not going to do anything about this Fulani herdsmen crisis, we students are not going to vote for you in 2019.”
While inaugurating some projects On Tuesday, Buhari asked Nigerians to desist from reprisal attacks and directed all security agencies in the country to “arrest and prosecute anyone found with illegal arms”.