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Nigeria Establishes Ministry of Livestock Development, Contrasting Commitment to Implement Oronsaye Report

Nigeria Establishes Ministry of Livestock Development, Contrasting Commitment to Implement Oronsaye Report

In a move aimed at addressing the persistent killings of farmers by herders, and fostering economic growth through livestock farming, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has announced the creation of the Federal Ministry of Livestock Development.

This decision, revealed during the inauguration of the Presidential Committee on Livestock Reforms at the State House in Abuja, is seen as a pivotal step towards modernizing livestock production and resolving the age-old crisis that has plagued Nigeria.

The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has long championed the call for a dedicated ministry to oversee livestock development. Following the failure of the Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) initiative under former President Muhammadu Buhari, MACBAN has been persistent with its demand.

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“We as an association had for years been agitating tooth and nail to actualize the creation of a stand-alone ministry to modernize livestock production system in line with global best practices,” the group declared in a welcome statement to the development.

They assured the federal government of their support, promising to help turn livestock production into a significant foreign exchange earner and reduce farmer-herder conflicts.

Tinubu expressed his confidence in the new ministry’s potential to resolve the longstanding conflicts.

“Who says the solution is far? I say, ‘No, the solution is here.’ Majority of you have great experience and you want Nigeria to prosper,” Tinubu proclaimed.

He noted the benefits of improving the quality and safety of livestock products, reducing food waste, and ensuring a stable supply from farm to market.

The Federal Government has pledged to cover the costs of acquiring lands to facilitate peaceful coexistence between pastoralists and farmers.

Heading the committee on livestock reforms is President Tinubu himself, with former INEC chairman Attahiru Jega serving as the deputy chairman. The committee’s mandate is to propose recommendations that foster peaceful coexistence between herders and farmers while ensuring the security and economic well-being of Nigerians.

This announcement follows Tinubu’s approval, ten months prior, of the Presidential Committee on Livestock Reforms, set up to address herders and farmers’ conflict and bolster the livestock and dairy industries.

Previous efforts by the government, such as the controversial RUGA scheme, have failed to put an end to conflict effectively. For instance, a recent attack in Plateau State, which resulted in dozens of deaths, highlights the urgency of finding a sustainable solution.

The Ministry Ushers in Contradictions in Policy

The creation of this new ministry contrasts sharply with President Tinubu’s earlier declared commitment to implementing the Oronsaye report, aimed at streamlining government operations by merging and reducing the number of agencies.

The 2012 Oronsaye report recommended significant restructuring, including reducing the number of statutory agencies from 263 to 161 and eliminating or merging others. Full implementation of the report could save the Nigerian Government over N241 billion.

However, with Nigeria already burdened by 28 ministries and 45 ministers, adding a new ministry raises concerns about increased government expenditure and administrative inefficiency.

The Political Underpinnings

While the federal government is heralding the creation of the Ministry of Livestock Development, critics argue that the move may serve more as a political maneuver than a genuine attempt to solve the herder-farmer conflicts.

“If the North today asks for Federal land and federal funding for RUGA, they will get it. If they ask for all roads to have air conditioning, they will get it also,” Economist Kalu Aja remarked.

Aja suggested that the President’s decision is driven by a desire to secure northern votes ahead of the 2027 presidential election rather than a commitment to budgetary discipline or implementing the Oronsaye report.

“The administration that spoke eloquently about implementing Oronsaye is creating a brand new ministry for cows,” he noted. “To economists, budget watchers, and those expecting an economic miracle, I say collect your L in peace.”

Is The New Ministry A Solution?

Despite the optimistic tone from the presidency, many Nigerians remain skeptical about the new ministry’s ability to quell the violence between herders and farmers.

Some believe that the creation of the ministry could embolden herders rather than curb their aggression. They argue that without stringent enforcement of laws and a balanced approach to land use and rights, the ministry might not stop the herders from killing farmers but might instead reinforce their sense of impunity.

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