Livestock commission’ll end herders, farmers’ crisis – VON Director General

The Director General, Voice of Nigeria, VON, Osita Okechukwu, has advised the Federal Government to listen to people calling for the creation of a national livestock commission.
The Director General, Voice of Nigeria, VON, Osita Okechukwu

The Director General, Voice of Nigeria, VON, Osita Okechukwu, has advised the Federal Government to listen to people calling for the creation of a national livestock commission.

Okechukwu said such a commission would address most of the problems confronting the nation’s security and economy because the body would source for funds, establish cattle ranches across the country, generate over two million jobs directly and indirectly in the first one year, and boost food production.

The chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC), who said this while briefing journalists, on Sunday, noted that the government’s investment in ranches was a sure path to development.

He said Nigeria ought to have overcome its security challenges and developed far more than it has done under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, saying the proposal of the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, for the establishment of a pastoralist commission would help the country to address current threats to its corporate existence.

Okechukwu explained that if the country created a livestock commission, it would rescue the nation from the brinks of failure.

He said, “May I commend Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation (HAGF) for his idea of setting up Pastoral or Livestock Commission nationwide.

“Methinks, it is a pragmatic community-oriented solution, aimed at diffusing, cushioning and stopping the intractable menace of Farmers-Herders crisis in our dear country.

“It properly defines the Farmers-Herders Crisis for what it truly is – National Security Question. It is a National Security Question because it had polarised and divided the country more than any other issue since after the civil war. It has more or less rubbished all the good works of President Muh Buhari, GCFR and profiled him negatively.”

Asked about the appropriateness of federal government funding herders when they are private business, Okechukwu, said: “The query of the appropriateness of the federal government funding herders, who are private farmers, has not deflated the need for the creation of livestock commission

“Let us note that the herders have dangerously disrupted crop farmers, and on the other hand farmers have rustled cattle, before we count the uncountable lives lost, the polarisation of our dear countrymen and unnecessarily as daggers are drawn.

“The farmers-herders crisis is a National Security Question, which has placed our dear fatherland in a cliff-hanger and therefore, as a matter of urgent national importance, must be contained.”

Okechukwu regretted that the menace has subsumed the achievements of President Buhari in agriculture, railway revolution and other infrastructural projects.

Reminded that what Malami proposed was a pastoral Commission not livestock, he said, “I prefer Livestock Commission. Please consider the substitution of name to Livestock Commission in line with the change of syntax, not meaning.

“For a careful analysis of the minister’s speech shows that he moved far away from just addressing Farmers-Herders Crisis from purely theoretical perspectives often devoid of reality and synchronization with stakeholders to a national security question.

“My submission is that the proposal is more or less in line with the National Livestock Transformation Plan promulgated in 2018. And a cursory glance at the table below shows that we have abundant and arable land nationwide.

“All we need do urgently is promulgate Livestock Commission, source for fund and establish cattle, goat, sheep, pig etc Ranches across the country. In the next two years, any cattle roaming the farm will be considered an enemy.

“My study shows it will employ over two million in the first one year directly and indirectly. It will produce more meat, more milk and make more money.”

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A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.