Former Lagos State Governor and All Progressives Congress (APC), faithful,
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has finally made his position known on the farmers-herdsmen crisis.
The Yoruba leader suggested that unused public lands be leased at a minimal rate to herders for grazing.
He had been repeatedly criticised for his unnecessary silence on the issue despite his towering image in the country.
Tinubu in a statement on Saturday said that the herders-farmers dispute had taken an acute and violent dimension and had cost too many innocent lives while destroying the property and livelihoods of many others.
According to him, as vital as security is to the resolution of this matter, the nation must realise security measures alone will not suffice.
He said that enhanced security might be the necessary first step, but it could not be the only step.
“This matter is not ethnic in factual origin or actual causation although in the minds and hearts of too many it has become ethnic in recrimination and impulsive action.
“There have been sporadic disputes in the past but this one is more severe. The reasons for the greater violence of this current dispute are myriad, “Tinubu said.
According to Tinubu, farmers have a right to farm their lands unmolested and herdsmen have a right to raise their livestock without undue interference.
He, however, added that when conflict between these groups arises to such an extent, the nation must set forth clear principles and policies to remove the tension, in order to allow both to proceed toward their stated goals, to live in harmony and according to their respective rights.
“To destroy the crops or seize the property of the innocent farmer or herder is nothing if not an act of criminality,” he said.
Tinubu noted that unoccupied public land could be fenced into grazing areas or ranches and leased to herdsmen on a very low-cost, nominal basis.
He added that the leasing is not intended to penalise herders, rather the nominal fee should be intended to ensure the herders were invested in the project and incentivized to use the land provided.
Tinubu said this aspect would also mitigate any resentment over herders being given land for free.
He equally urged the government to also assist farmers increase productivity by providing subvention for their acquisition of fertilizer, equipment and machinery.
He said this could be done by establishing commodity boards to guarantee minimum prices for important crops.
Tinubu said in the the medium to long term, resources must be dedicated to establishing better irrigation and water catchment systems to further improve farm productivity and mitigate the dire impact of flood.
He stressed the need to establish a permanent panel in each state as a forum for farmers, herders, security officials and senior state officials to discuss their concerns, mitigate contention and identify trouble before it erupts between farmers and herdsmen.
According to him, the crisis gas aggravated ethnic sentiment and political tension and despite the efforts of some of those in positions of high responsibility and public trust, the crisis has not significantly abated