Obaseki to create grazing areas for herdsmen, embarks on fact-finding tour

• Vows not to politicise herdsmen attacks

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State on Tuesday said his administration would provide grazing areas for herdsmen in the state to graze their cattle, just as he promised not to politicise security issues, especially the herdsmen attacks, which he described “social media speculation”.

The governor also hinted that efforts were being taken to isolate and deal with all security issues as they emerged so as to provide lasting security to communities across the state.

Governor Obaseki made the remarks when he led heads of security agencies in the state on a fact-finding visit to Udo, Ovia South-West Local Government Area of the state.

Speaking at the Palace of the Iyase of Udo, His Royal Highness Patrick Igbinidu, Obaseki said: “We are on a fact-finding tour around some parts of the state today to access the security situation particularly as it relates to farmers and herders’ conflicts in the state.

“As a government, we do not believe that we should politicise security. It is important that we get the facts right and understand what exactly is going on. We had reports about the crisis or impending crisis around this axis. We have also had all sorts of anxieties. Well, I will call them speculations on social media about herdsmen being pushed off from neighbouring states into this area and the escalating crisis or impending crisis,” the governor noted.

While conceding that there had been situations that had resulted in conflicts between herders and farmers, he maintained that his administration’s position “is that we have to manage this crisis carefully. Like I said, we should not politicise the issues of herdsmen in our society.

“The Fulani Community should collaborate with the government and security agencies to fish out criminals. We will create an area where the cattle will go regularly to eat, as they must not go to peoples’ farms. This will stop cattle from moving around the community including in farmlands,” Obaseki assured.

“We do not accept the situation whereby anybody will be herding cattle with AK-47 rifles and other dangerous weapons. We also understand that there are bandits and criminals who pretend to be herders but undertake criminal activities such as kidnapping in the name and guise of being herdsmen.

“I have always argued that we should separate these people and deal with each one accordingly. Today, we are here to undertake assessments ourselves and to assure the people of Ovia South West of adequate security being provided by the government to protect the people,” he added.

He assured that the state government would provide adequate security to protect the lives and property of the people, adding that the security structure of the state had been rejigged and revamped.

“We will not also accept the situation where people want to use the current security challenges to destabilise our country. We have no other country. Every country has its own challenges but they look for ways to resolve these challenges.

“We have major security challenges in the country as well as the whole of the Sahara region. I think leadership in this country should be responsible and we should ensure that we focus on the specific crisis, some of which is not anybody’s doing,” Obaseki submitted.

The governor warned that some of the crisis in the sub-continent today had to do with environmental changes, and called on all to come together and look for ways to confront those emerging security problems and “not to begin to take it out of context because of cheap political gains to create a crisis in the country.”

Obaseki assured that as a governor for all, his administration would protect residents in the state .

Earlier in his remarks, the Iyase of Udo said that the security challenges in his community had been on for a very long time, adding, that farmers always complain about the activities of the herdsmen.

“When I received such reports, I had to call both parties to resolve the issues immediately. We have been on it for a very long time,” the Iyase noted.

The State Commissioner of Police, Mr Philip Agbadu, assured of the readiness of his men in ensuring peace in the troubled areas in the state.

The top police brass urged “Fulani leaders to ensure that children are not allowed to follow the cattle for grazing as they may not be able to control them.”

In his remarks, the leader of Fulani Community in the area, Alhaji Muhammad Buhari, expressed appreciation to the governor for the fact-finding mission to the area, adding that Fulani community in the area are peace-loving people and had lived in the community for years and his people would always support peaceful atmosphere.

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