Umahi heads sub-committee on farmers, herdsmen crisis

Dave Umahi, governor of Ebonyi state, has been appointed as head of a sub-committee to dialogue with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and other groups of cattle herders in a bid to end the clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

Last month, the national economic council set up a committee, headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, to look into the crisis.

Nine governors, including Umahi, are members of the committee.

Speaking with state house correspondents at the end of a three-hour meeting presided over by Osinbajo, Abdulaziz Yari, chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, said it was resolved that the sub-committee could invite other members to assist in holding dialogue with “critical stakeholders” who can see to the end of the killings.

Among the governors who attended the meeting were Simon Lalong (Plateau), ‎Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna) and Jibrilla Bindow (Adamawa).

The deputy governors of Benue and Oyo as well as Audu Ogbeh, minister of agriculture, and Abdulrahman Dambazau, minister of interior, were also in attendance.

At its inaugural meeting, the committee said the crisis also required a political solution considering the religious and ethnic tones.

“There is progress. One, this committee is a NEC committee established by the vice-president so that this issue of herdsmen/farmers clashes will be put to rest,” Yari said.

“Though it is a long-standing problem since 2007 in some states particularly in my own state, we have been battling with it. Now the states and federal government under the leadership of the vice-president, we agreed to have a small committee at NEC so that the situation will not get out of hand so that it won’t be looked at as an ethnicity crisis or religious crisis.

“So, in our discussion today, we have set up a committee headed by governor of Ebonyi State, while Plateau and Adamawa governors are members, and we are bringing some technocrats that will visit hot spots states, like Benue, Taraba, Adamawa and Zamfara, where there is crisis so that they can interface with the Meyitti Allah and other groups to see how we can reduce this to the barest minimum. Why we cannot say we can put this matter to rest is because some of them have taken this as a money-making venture, some are criminals who hide under this to perpetrate this act.

“As government we have to take all the measures despite the fact that the army, police, all the security agents are on the field at the respective places, still we have to form this committee to interface with those actors so that this matter can be reduced to the barest minimum and possibly boy wipes off.”