The Yoruba Initiative,a socio-cultural and non-political group in southWest has raised the alarm on the menace constituted by suspected Fulani herdsmen on farmlands in the South West and other parts of the country.
It described the unceasing encroachment as a threat to the economy.
The TYI in a statement signed by Folu Olamiti, the Chairman of its Media Committee, alluded to the outcries and complaints from farmers in South West, Delta State, South Eastern states and recently from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria in Abuja on the havoc being wreaked by suspected Fulani herdsmen on farmlands.
The group, against this background, therefore called on the South West governors to take the problem as a challenge by collaborating with the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria to immediately develop an action plan aimed at preventing further encroachment of farm lands.
The TYI in the statement said the Federal Government should urgently intervene by looking into the problems and dangers posed by the cows rampaging farmlands in the South West and other parts of the federation, averring that the problem, if not curbed, has the potency to cause commotions and disaffections among ethnic groups in the country.
The group noted that the grazing of cattle on farmlands in specific areas of the South West by the herders had been discouraging the business of farming in the region, more so as farmers continued to count their losses each time cows maliciously devoured crops on their farms.
The group lamented that the efforts by the Federal Government to diversify the economy with farming as a major anchor, are already being defeated through the danger now being constituted by the rampage on arable lands by cows, thereby rendering them useless for viable farming ventures.
The TYI added: “If it continues it will worsen poverty and food scarcity not only in the South West, but also across the federation in the foreseeable future.”
The TYI counselled the Federal Government not to concentrate attention on the northern part of the country alone on agriculture development, but to spread such opportunities evenly across the geopolitical zones of the federation if Nigeria must truly “emerge as a giant in agriculture, while earning foreign exchange to grow its economy”.
The TYI counseled affected state governors to urgently consider holding a special meeting with the President, state governors from the northern parts of the country, as well as the umbrella association for Fulani herders to collectively fashion out ways to stop the rampage.
The statement further said: “The people of South West have long been noted to be highly accommodating. They have been living peacefully with Fulani and other ethnic groups for ages until now that cows, for no just reason, are being moved with impunity into farmlands, while herders show no slight concern to farm owners.
“We like to stress here that the impunity noted of the herders in destroying farmlands may have political undertone for now, but such will never serve even their interest in the long run in the event that Nigeria gets destabilised in line with plans by forces that may be remote-controlling the herders.”
The TYI also appealed to farmers in all parts of the South West to be more security conscious and law abiding and to report any breach of security around their farms to government of their respective states.