By Hassana Yakubu
The Chairman of Northern Governors Forum and Plateau Governor, Mr Simon Lalong, said states in the region have commenced the process of turning cattle rearing into a huge business for the benefit of herders and the region’s economy.
Lalong made the disclosure during the 7th Annual Lecture of Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation, on Saturday in Kaduna.
The chairman said governors in the region had since February 2021, agreed that open grazing is unsustainable and initiated measures to end it.
He stressed that the NGF has been at the forefront of pushing for solutions to open grazing and was aggressively sensitising herdsmen to adapt new methods of herding by ranching or other acceptable modern methods.
“Let me emphasise that we have no intention of politicising this matter.
“Our interest is to transform it into a purely economic activity and also end the negative aspects of the current practice without creating new problems.
“We as Northern Governors, therefore, adopted the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) and called on the Federal Government to release funds to willing states to start.
“In fact, some state governments have begun processes to ending open grazing in their states.
“Kaduna has a Ranch with DANO milk as a pilot; Plateau has sent a Bill on Ranching to State Assembly, Zamfara, Kano, Taraba, Niger, Nasarawa have started ranch constructions.
“Benue State has had an anti-grazing law for some years. Northern Governors are already walking the talk,” Lalong added.
On unemployment, the Forum chairman said governors in the region have focused on creating more ecomomic opportunities for the youths.
This, he said, was “to ensure that they are not idle and vulnerable to abuse and misuse by criminal groups and misguided politicians.
“In particular, we are very much interested in encouraging technical and vocational education that will give our people skills to solve everyday challenges.
“And expand our processing and production capacities in agriculture which remains the mainstay of the region’s economy.
“The days of paper qualifications are over and if we are to build economic prosperity in the era of COVID-19, then we must encourage our youths to become entrepreneurs and employment creators rather than job seekers.
“I am happy to note that in this direction, many of the States have put in place various strategies to try to ameliorate the sufferings of the general populace in order to improve the battered economies and to create enabling environment to stimulate economic recovery.
“Such efforts must be sustained and institutionalised so as to avoid political interferences that tend to destroy good programmes particularly when there is a change of power,” he said.
Lalong expressed concern over the high poverty level in the north, poor school enrollment, drug addiction among the youth, religious intolerance, insurgency, banditry, farmer/herder clashes, kidnappings, and a host of others.
“We need to work together and act fast to save our people from the difficult situation that they currently face,” he stressed.