Herdsmen defy government’s order to leave Abuja streets
By Gaaden Puun, Abuja Herdsmen are bent on frustrating the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari to take them off the streets of the Federal Capital Territory, AljazirahNigeria has learnt. The president through the FCT Minister, Mnuhammad Musa Bello had recently ordered herdsmen last October to vacate the seat of power. He did that during a meeting with members of the Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, FCT Chapter. During the meeting in Abuja, the President reiterated that herdsmen must move their cattle out of the Federal Capital City because there is no way, such animals can co-habit with the residents. Emphasizing safety reasons, the President said cattle should not roam on the streets and highways in the city because the government wants to prevent cattle breeders from rearing cattle in the Territory. "You have to understand that when Abuja Environmental Protection Board says cattle should not roam the city, it is not because they want to prevent cattle breeders from rearing cattle in the FCT. Basically, it is just for safety. It is for safety of your cattle and above all, safety of the citizens." According to him, in a modern city, it was not possible for animals and vehicles to move together on the roads because this could cause accidents which in some cases could be fatal. In order to achieve meaningful results, the Minister implored the Association to nominate some of their members to serve in the Ministerial Task Team on Environment. "You can give him some number of educated young men in your communities who will be part of some of these Committees so that they will be able to communicate," he added. Bello said that the FCT Administration has moved a step further to even identify new grazing reserves that will cater for their requirements. AljazirahNigeria gathered that a total of 33,485 hectares have already been earmarked for grazing reserves to cater for about 7 million herds of cattle comprising of Paikon Kore - 8,500 hectares, Karshi - 6,000 hectares, Kawu in Bwari - 9,000 hectares and Rubochi in Kuje which is 9,985 hectares. Bello noted that the critical issue is compensation for the farmers that are there but assured that his Administration will work together with the National Assembly to resolve that amicably. The Minister remarked that the FCT Administration may even reach out to the host communities to work out a situation where compensation does not have to be in monetary terms because of the large expanse of land involved. "Nothing should prevent the communities that are there and the Fulanis living together because you don't always have to move people away," he stressed. The Minister thanked Miyatti Allah for its support to the FCT Administration and also to the Federal Government and urged them to continue to robustly support him government. Speaking at the meeting, the Chairman of the FCT Chapter of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Malam Yahaya Isah promised to continue to interface with the government to promote peaceful co-existence. He assured that his Association will enlighten the members not to breed their cattle on the streets and highways of Abuja again. However, investigations by this medium indicates that the herdsmen have returned to Abuja city, barely three months after the assurance. Residents have begun to see herds of cattle were seen right within Asokoro, two hundred metres away from the President's office and many other parts of the city.