Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello, has said that herdsmen add to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product and can reduce the country’s unemployment rate.
He said herders and their businesses have been neglected while much attention has been paid to farmers in the country.
Bello spoke on Friday while addressing journalists on the progress made so far to secure the release of abducted students and members of staff of Government Science College, Kagara.
Gunmen had on Wednesday morning attacked the school which has a population of about 1,000 students.
Commenting on the abduction, Bello said the government was exploring kinetic and non-kinetic methods to secure the release of the abductees.
Bello also said he would be meeting with stakeholders at the grassroots to proffer a solution to the insecurity in the state.
He said, “I have called for a meeting with all the first-class emirs on Tuesday and all the Fulani heads to discuss. Sometimes, we need to understand ourselves to find solutions. Maybe they also have problems, maybe. So, we need to talk to them to read their minds and to understand what their problems are, so that we can address them.
“The truth of the matter is that since independence, no one has paid attention to herdsmen who are mostly Fulanis because not all herdsmen are Fulanis but 90 percent are Fulanis. Nobody has paid attention to them, no one has paid attention to their education. All we do is see them on market days, they come and we see them and we laugh. Nobody paid attention.
“So, they were moving from place to place with their cattle being attacked but now the time has come to stop all that practice, it is no longer feasible. There are no longer cattle routes anymore. As long as they move their cattle from different towns, different states, down South, there will be a problem because there are no more cattle routes. The population has increased, we are about 200 million now, more people are farming.
“We have paid more attention to farmers, all the programmes, all the incentives to farmers, zero to herders. They (herders) also add to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), they also will increase our economy, they also can create jobs if planned very well. So, the time has come to look at them to capture them very well in the system and that must be done for everlasting peace.”