The federal government has budgeted N940 million in the 2016 budget for the development of “strategic grazing reserves” to “stem the tide of herdsmen and farmers clashes” in the country, according to IPN News.
This is contained in the breakdown of the budget by the minister of budget and planning, Senator Udo Udoma on Thursday, May 12, 2016 at the Presidential Villa in Aso Rock, Abuja.
In the past weeks, the Fulani Militia, the armed wing of the Fulani herdsmen, a globally recognised terrorist group has carried out act of genocide against rural farming communities in the Middle Belt of Nigeria and parts of the Southern part of the country. Prominent in the communities attacked by the terrorists are Agatu in Benue State and Nzimo in Enugu State.
For a number of weeks, there have been controversies in Nigeria over a proposed National Grazing Reserves Commission Bill currently before the National Assembly. The bill is proposing empowering the federal government to forcefully seize ancestral land of indigenous people in the country and hand them over to cattle breeders who are predominantly of the Fulani tribe.
President Muhammadu Buhari supports the National Grazing bill, which has been dubbed the “Fulani Grazing Bill”. He is also Fulani and the life patron of the national association of cattle breeders in the country, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria.
This is even as the federal government on Tuesday in the Senate hearing on herdsmen/farmers clash, reaffirmed its plans to establish cattle ranches as lasting solution to the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria.
However, the herdsmen, under the MACBAN, rejected the proposal of the government to establish cattle ranches but insisted on having grazing reserves and routes.
Udoma in his briefing listed several projects in pursuit of the nation’s goal of self-sufficiency and food security which includes N940 million for the “development of strategic grazing reserves”.
To show the lopsidedness of the policy, there is no provision in the same budget for rebuilding, resettling, and compensating the victims of terrorist Fulani Herdsmen attacks. Agatu, a local government area in Benue was attacked at genocidal proportions leading to a UN envoy declaring the attacks a genocide and “the worst she has ever seen”.
The government according to one of the victims who spoke to IPN is interested only in “compensating the Fulani for behaving badly even at the expense of the victims”.