By Ndubuisi Michaels
Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, on Friday urged Nigerians to support ranching, saying it would drastically reduce herders-farmers clashes across the country.
He said that the time to rise against open grazing was now, especially as governors of the Northern States had voted for ranching as the way to go in cattle-rearing.
Okowa made the call when the National President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and President of Nigeria Baptist Convention, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, visited him at the Government House, Asaba, to condole with him on the recent passing away of his father.
He said that insecurity in the country was negatively impacting the socio-economic lives of Nigerians, and insisted that one of the ways to check the trend was for herders to embrace ranching.
He added that another way to address the myriad of challenges arising from insecurity was to meaningfully engage the people in productive ventures through vocational and skills acquisition training programmes, saying that it was a flagship programme of his administration.
The governor pointed out that unless unemployment was seriously addressed, the rate of banditry and other criminalities in the country may continue to rise and the nation may not exit from the challenges of insecurity.
“Here in Delta State, we have long realised that the way to go is to find ways of skilling our people, enabling them to acquire the needed skills because everybody cannot get white collar jobs.
“So, beyond vocational training, we have placed a lot of emphasis on technical education and we are doing our best that we can to reach out to our youths. We are glad that many of our youths are cooperating with us.
“I am glad that many of my colleagues (governors) in the North are now beginning to show more reasoning towards the development of our nation because they have spoken loudly in their last meeting concerning the issue of open grazing.
“We are glad to hear that because that has been the voice mainly from the South, but has now been echoed by our colleagues (governors) in the North and I am truly very glad that they have boldly come out to speak about that because we must truly find ways to begin to encourage ranching.
“This is because, in the first instance, if we are able to find ways of having grazing reserves as they are proposing, I believe that the cattle can be fed in such a way that they can grow bigger, have more meat, and it is more economical and many of the children can be free to truly go to school and be empowered.
“But, for those who want to take to the business of livestock farming, they can now be groomed such that they can have more productive livestock rather than the one we get them to trek long distances,” he said.
Okowa expressed hope that the call on the Federal Government to encourage ranching would be considered because it was a way out of reducing the farmers/herders crises, and emphasized that ranching was a way of improving livestock economy in the nation.
According to him, it will be in the best interest of all Nigerians, because it will improve the family income and reduce insecurity in the land.
While saying he was glad that Nigerians were praying for God to help in solving the many challenges bedevilling the country, the governor said “we pray that God will truly hear our prayers because things have really got so bad that it is becoming negatively impactful on the common man, the average farmer and those who just have little.
Earlier, Rev. Ayokunle had told the governor that he was at the Government House on condolence to him and his family to commiserate with them on the passage of his father.
He expressed concern over the increasing rate of insecurity in the country and urged those in government to take urgent steps to address all security-related issues.