Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has explained that the Ranching Law passed in Benue was not targeted at anybody or group but to ensure peace between farmers and herdsmen.
Ortom said this in Nsukka on Tuesday while delivering the Prof. Miriam Ikejiani-Clark First Memorial Lecture, titled “The State and Management of Farmers /Herdsmen Conflict in Nigeria: Lessons from the Benue Valley”.
He said the ranching law provided protection for both farmers and herdsmen. “The ranching law that prohibits herdsmen from open grazing, so as not to destroy the crops of farmers, the same law approved sanctions for cattle rustlers, who will try to rustle cattle where they are kept.
“As there are dos and don’ts for herdsmen, there are also dos and don’ts for farmers, this is to ensure cordial relationship between farmers and herdsmen,” he said.
He said if countries that have more cattle like India, Brazil, China, U.S and Argentina could practice ranching, why not Nigeria with less than 20 million cattle.
“India has 343 million cattle, Brazil 226 million cattle , China 100 million cattle and U.S 93 million cattle and Argentina 53 million cattle.
“It will be hard for one to believe that Nigeria with less than 20 million cattle find it difficult to practice ranching,” he said.
The Governor said that it was gross ignorance of the law for anyone to insinuate that the law protects only the farmers.
“I urged the 9th National Assembly to pass National Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Bills, so as to end clashes between farmers and herders in the country.
“Open cattle routes of the 1950s will no longer work because on such routes, hospitals, airports, university campuses and companies have been built.
“I am happy, those who think that the problem of herdsmen is only that of the Benue Valley and Middle-Belt states are today having the bitter pill of herdsmen in their various states,” he said.
The governor said that if nothing urgent was done over herdsmen clashes with farmers very soon, it would become a national social and economic problem too difficult to contain.
In a remark, the Head of Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Dr Ifeanyichukwu Abada, said the department decided to honour Prof. Ikejiani-Clark, who was a lecturer of the department because of her numerous contributions and legacies.
“We all gather here to honour an outstanding scholar and administrator, who left her foot prints in the sands of time.
“It’s unfortunate that most times the society celebrates charlatans, who are both morally and intellectually bankrupt.
“What we are doing today by instituting this memorial lecture for Ikejiani-Clark, is to change the narrative by recognising excellence and hard work, he said.
Abada said Ikejiani-Clark was heroine, who bestrode the academic and public space like a colossus.
“This memorial lecture will be a bi-annual event and will over time transform into an intellectual talk shop, where myriad of problems confronting Nigeria as a nation will be articulated.
He commended Ortom for accepting to deliver the lecture and for doing justice to the topic.
Earlier, Nnia Nwodo, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo said Ortom, was more qualified to deliver the topic of the lecture, given what the people of Benue experienced with herdsmen.
“I salute the courage of the Benue State governor, who stood with his people to enact the Ranching Law as the best option to stop constant killings of innocent people in the state by suspected herdsmen,” he said.
NAN reports that the lecture was attended by people from different walks of life.