The Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has stated that the insecurity in the North-West region has brought a migration of Fulani herdsmen to the state, causing the herdsmen to outnumber the natives in some local Government Areas.
The governor in an interview with journalists said Kwara South and Kwara North communities were the most victims, while lamenting that the ban on open grazing had not tackled the problem of farmers-herdsmen crisis.
AbdulRazaq said, “Security challenges are huge, especially with insecurity in the North-West, and the declaration by Southern Governors to ban open grazing. Once they pronounced it and set a date, we saw a migration of herdsmen coming in to the extent that if you go to Kwara South, Kwara North now, in some villages, the Fulani have moved in. They are more in population than the indigenes.
“Many times, I have engaged with the traditional rulers, especially to say, let’s be accommodating, it will soon pass. The ban on open grazing is a law that cannot be enforced. It’s about fundamental human rights; the right to free movement. It is enshrined in our Constitution. You can try to minimise it.
“But now you’re saying you have to buy your food and water from next month. It’s not going to happen. In terms of ethnic groups across Nigeria, in terms of literacy, the Fulani are at the bottom. When you see the herdsmen, they are children, herding the cattle to the bush. Those children don’t understand. They are illiterate. You’ve gone to the bank to collect money to plant maize. He sees food for his cattle.
“You see maize that you want to cultivate, sell and pay back your loan but he sees food for his cattle and he passes through your farm. What you also forget is where he is passing may be a grazing route from the colonial era.
“They maintained that route. We don’t know it, they know it. It is like a federal highway. It’s been there. The British Colonial administrators created those routes; they put veterinary officers and tax collectors at certain strategic points.
“They were collecting tax and vaccinating the cattle and all sorts of things. The routes were there like the federal highways. In Kwara, we have about four or five grazing reserves we inherited from the colonial era. They are there. We are going to take and develop those reserves.
“With localization, global warming and urbanization, things have changed. Global warming means less water, less vegetation, desertification and therefore, smaller space, they have to come further South to graze.
“Urbanization means that you have built on their grazing routes, where they used to graze 50 years ago for free, somebody else has a C of O on it now. He is doing his own plantation for maize.
“We’re not offering these Fulani anything other than the bullets. That’s the truth of it. What are the options? We say we ban open grazing, so what option did we give them other than move out of our state, we have banned open grazing?
“They are Nigerians who have rights to freedom of movement. If you ban open grazing, you have to give them an option.”