Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, says cattle should not take priority over human beings as President Muhammadu Buhari's plans to settle herdsmen on lands across states of Nigeria.
He said this while fielding questions from journalists about the proposed Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) initiative.
“RUGA is going to be an explosive issue and it had better be handled very carefully. I think there’s going to be trouble in this country if this cattle rearing issue is not handled imaginatively and with humanity as the priority.
“There cannot be any kind of society where cattle take priority over human beings.
“There’s nothing so strange or mysterious about cattle rearing so why should cattle become a problem just because we like to eat beef? I don’t understand it. There are solutions which are very simple.
“People have talked about ranching but the ranching has to be done in places that are environmentally congenial to that kind of trade and at the same time do not afflict humanity,” he stated.
While lamenting that hundreds have been killed in farmer-herder clashes across the country, Soyinka blamed the situation on poor leadership.
“People are being killed in hundreds till today and it’s only because of the failure of the leadership at the critical time.
“The cattle rearers have been given a sense of impunity. They kill without any compunction. They drive farmers who are contributing to the food solution of the country (they drive them away), burn and eat their crops and then you come with RUGA?” he said.
His comments came in the wake of the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu's clarifications on the controversial plan.
In an interview on Channels TV’s News at 10, he stated that the plan was initiated in order to stop the roaming of cattle which had been met with incidents of clashes between farmers and herdsmen.