Members of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) have unanimously agreed that time was ripe to end “open, night and underage grazing in the country.” They however, cautioned against the profiling of ethnic groups based on the misbehavior of a few criminally-minded individuals. The governors accepted also to put in place systems to accelerate the grazing initiative of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) and ranching in their respective states.
This, according to them, will help to douse the tension caused across the country by herders-farmers clashes.
These were contained in a communiqué arising from Wednesday’s 25th virtual meeting of the NGF which was made available to reporters on Thursday.
The statement was however silent on the date the governors hoped to put a stop to the movement of cattle across state borders.
It reads in part : “Following an update from governors on the various initiatives taken by state governments to address the rising insecurity in the country due to the activities of herdsmen, members reached a consensus on the need for the country to transition into modern systems of animal husbandry that will replace open, night and underage grazing in the country.
“State governments are encouraged to put in place systems to accelerate the grazing initiative of the NLTP and ranching in the country.
“The forum respects the right of abode of all Nigerians and strongly condemns criminality and the ethnic profiling of crimes in the country in an effort to frame the widespread banditry and herders-farmers crises.
“In the light of the economic and security risks that have arisen from these circumstances, the forum resolved to urgently convene an emergency meeting of all governors.
“The Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, provided an update on steps taken by the governors of the 19 Northern states and cautioned against the tagging of ethnic groups based on the misbehavior of a few criminally -minded individuals.
“He (Lalong) called on state governors to address this matter head-on in their various states.”
The governors added that following an update by Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, they resolved to immediately address the misinformation from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources that it has so far registered 4.5 million farmers nationwide under the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP).
The AFJP is a key component of the Nigeria Economic and Sustainability Plan (NESP) designed to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on farmers.
The meeting also dwelt on ways to ensure effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccines when they are available.
The governors also plan to inaugurate an advisory group of experts to provide high-level strategic guidance and support to states on the procurement of the vaccines in the short time and their local production in the medium to long term.
The governors will directly with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to ensure that vaccines are administered equitably, first to workers who are on the frontline of the pandemic.
The meeting also noted that states had been under-utilising existing fiscal facilities in the country, including the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Fund, the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and the Saving One Million Lives programme.
They noted that timely implementation of these facilities in line with the financing plans of states was vital to ensure expenditure coherence and the sustainability for several projects on primary health care and basic education implemented at the state-level, especially during this period of the COVID-19 era.
On the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), the statement quoted the NGF Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State as expressing concern over the delay in the payment of funds to the three BHCPF pilot states of Abia, Niger and Osun.
By Eric Ikhilae,