Nigeria’s former ambassador to the Russian Federation and Belarus, Assam E. Assam, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, says those in Nigeria still asking for open grazing of cattle are primitive and have not the interest of Nigeria at heart.
Assam who expressed this view on “The Public View”, a news and current affairs programme on HIT 95.9 FM, Calabar, Cross River State, while commenting on pressing national issues, further maintained that “… there’s no country in the world that encourages open grazing when it has the potential for ranching. Anybody who thinks he can bring into the herdsmen conversation the argument that it is because of open grazing that this people are doing what they are doing, would be certainly wrong. I believe that after so many years, Nigeria has tried to modernise a lot of things, we have modernised fishing, we have modernised roads, we have modernised our aviation, why can’t we modernise our method of growing cattle? We still have cattle coming from Sokoto to Calabar, we should ranch, if we cannot ranch then don’t farm cattle.”
He further submitted that, “those people you see on the road herding cattle are not the owners of the cattle. The cattle is owned by multimillionaires, so they can have ranches.The owners of the cattle are not poor people, those you see herding the cattle are just workers.I am not stopping anybody from farming cattle but they must be a better way of farming cattle. It is cruel for the animal to be expected to trek for one thousand miles before it is slaughtered for food. You either have a ranch or you don’t sell cattle.” Ranches he maintained cannot be set up by government as this a private enterprise. “If I want to own a cocoa farm in Kano today, will I tell government to buy the land for me? Except there is a programme for cocoa farmers to acquire land through government agencies in Kano, otherwise, I am the one who will source for and pay for the land. Look, nobody should blackmail government into setting up ranches. Those marauding as herdsmen and unleashing mayhem are criminals. We have seen herdsmen for all their lives and herdsmen don’t carry sub machine guns as the tools of their trade, they carry sticks…”.
On government’s approach to the killings carried out by suspected herdsmen, the former envoy believes the approach has “been the most disappointing and most lackadaisical method and of course it is reminiscent of the government of the time. Look, the primary responsibility of government is the protection of lives and property. If that cannot be achieved then we are in trouble.”
“I was in the House of Representatives when Buhari first came to power in 1983. I watched him run his administration from 1983 to 1985 and the administration was not basically run by him, it was run by his Chief of Staff, Tunde Idiagbon. Now, he is presently the commander in chief and while the buck stops on his table, he has again demonstrated that he is not in-charge and that is why a lot of unfortunate things are happening unabated in this country”, he concluded, when asked to comment on Buhari.
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