Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai of Kaduna state says ranching remains the recipe for the recurring problem of conflict between farmers and herders in the country.
The governor, who spoke to reporters at the national secretariat of the All progressive congress (APC) in Abuja, argued that the measure remains the most sustainable means to boost livestock production.
El-Rufai urged those pushing for the immediate ban on open grazing to exercise restraint as time and resources are required to put in place ranches across the country.
“We must move towards ranching. But moving towards ranching cannot be done overnight. We have to have a plan, we have to have resources and we have to implement it sensibly. It is not a matter of populist legislation or saying tomorrow this or that. It is not a solution,” El-Rufai said.
“We have taken a position as northern state governors and we are implementing that. And in my state, for instance, we are developing a huge ranch to centralize the herders. And that is the solution, a long-time solution. But can it be done overnight?
“This project we are doing will cost us about N10 billion. The CBN is supporting us with about N7.5 billion. And it will take about two years to do. We will be settling Fulani herdsmen and their families.
“And I hope that they will see that there are alternative ways of producing livestock instead of running up and down with cattle going to people’s farms to cause all kinds of problems. We want to solve the problem.
“What is unhelpful is to politicise the situation and pass legislation that you know that you cannot implement. So, we have taken a position and we are working round the clock to implement that position.
“These herders emanate from the north and we are going to centralize them. We cannot do it overnight. We need billions of naira. This is just one ranch that is costing N10 billion. I have 14 grazing reserves in Kaduna state and I will like to convert them into ranching. Do I have 14 times 10 billion naira? I don’t have.
“If the federal government will give me N114 billion, I will convert the other thirteen into ranches and make sure that nobody comes out with a cow or sheep in Kaduna state because I will have enough ranches to take care of everybody. That is the solution. You can legislate but let us wait and see. And I wish them the best of luck.”
On the controversy surrounding the sharing of the value-added tax (VAT) revenue, El-Rufai said, “We took a position in the Nigeria Governors Forum not to comment on the VAT issue because it is still going through the court. And until the supreme makes make a final pronouncement on the matter, anything that you see today can be changed.
“Even the states that have passed legislation, the supreme court can override them. So, I am reluctant to comment on it. But people think that VAT is a sales tax. It is not.
“VAT is a special kind of tax. And there are many ways to look at it and I am sure at that the appropriate time the Nigeria Governors Forum will look at it and take a position. But until then I am reluctant to comment on a matter that is still going through the judicial process.”