In a recent announcement, FCT Minister Nyesom Wike expressed his commitment to ending open grazing of cattle in Abuja, as part of his efforts to restore the city’s status as the Federal Capital Territory.
The presence of animal dung and the associated health risks have been a longstanding concern for residents.
Former Chairman of the Senate Committee on FCT, Dino Melaye, had previously attempted to address the issue by directing the Minister of FCT to slaughter cows found in the city center. Despite these efforts, open grazing continued.
Now, Wike has taken a stand against open grazing. Shortly after being sworn in, he declared that herders can no longer graze their cattle on the city’s grasses used for beautification. However, the challenge lies in finding a solution that allows herders to continue their livelihoods while keeping the city free from roaming cattle.
The National President of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Baba Othman Ngelzarma, expressed a desire to meet with the FCT Minister to discuss the challenges faced by herders, including the lack of functional grazing reserves. Ngelzarma believes that Wike’s disposition and commitment to development make him the right person to address these issues.
On the other hand, the National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Saleh Alhassan Kubah, holds a different view. He believes that cows cannot be driven away or stopped from grazing in the north. Kubah suggests that Wike should focus on developing Abuja instead of concerning himself with cows, as most of the cows seen in the city belong to the elites.
Hajiya Umma Abubakar, the Director of Animal Husbandry Services in the Agricultural and Rural Development, FCT, outlined plans to settle herders in comfortable zones. The establishment of grazing reserves aims to provide an enabling environment for herders to engage in livestock activities comparable to global standards. The FCT Administration plans to develop the four grazing reserves in Abuja and turn them into economic hubs for herders and their communities.
Efforts are being made to differentiate between indigenous herders and migrant herders, as well as to address resistance from host communities. The government is working with security agencies and communities to identify genuine herders who pose no threat to society.
The FCT Minister and the Minister of State for FCT are committed to meeting with stakeholders to achieve the desired objectives and ensure the successful development of grazing reserves in Abuja.