Beyond Ban On Open Grazing

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On April 26, 2018, the National Economic Council (NEC) approved the recommendations of a sub-committee set up by the Federal Government on the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country.
The three-man body headed by Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State was set up in February, 2018 to unravel the causes of the clashes between herdsmen and farmers and come up with a report to end the problem.
The NEC meeting presided over by Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, endorsed the committee’s recommendations to wit: Ban on open grazing in the country, among others.
Osinbajo explained that the council opted for the establishment of ranches, stressing that the major causes of the herdsmen/farmers conflict are understandable but the dimension of the involvement of criminals in cattle rustling, kidnappings, rape and killings are quite disturbing and must be checked.
Specifically, NEC okayed the need to educate livestock farmers on the benefits of ranching and the review of ECOWAS protocol on free movement of livestock and herdsmen across borders as a means of stopping the influx of criminal elements who pose as herdsmen into Nigeria.
While The Tide agrees with the ban on open cattle grazing, we, however, must chide the APC-led government for waiting too long before adopting such resolution.
Regrettably, under the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari, Benue State alone has recorded not fewer than 50 incursions by marauding herdsmen with over 9,000 innocent souls lost and properties estimated at over N10 billion destroyed. Several communities have also been displaced from their natural habitation.
Such avoidable loss of lives and properties were also recorded in Adamawa, Kogi, Zamfara, Kaduna, Plateau, Nassarawa, Edo, Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Ondo, Cross River and Enugu States.
It is against this backdrop that the Methodist Archbishop of Abuja, the Most Reverend Joseph Oche-Job called for a determined action from the Federal Government to stop the senseless killings by terrorists and herdsmen across the country.
Similarly, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka and the Primate, Church of Nigeria, Most Reverend Nicholas Oko, asked Nigerians to demand the fulfillment of their social/security contract with the Federal Government, or resort to self-help.
We, therefore, expect the government to match words with action to ensure that open grazing would now be a thing of the past, by immediately forwarding an executive bill to the National Assembly to that effect.
The Cattle Breeders Association and other stakeholders should call their members to order and ensure that the ban is enforced. The association should also prevail on their members to establish ranches without further delay and ensure that their livestock are confined as a means of averting further clashes with their host communities.
While states like Ekiti, Benue and Taraba should be commended for enacting laws banning open grazing of cattles, we urge the Federal Government to act fast by giving the proposal a legal teeth, while also taking other proactive actions against reckless killings in the country.
The Buhari administration should ensure that criminal herdsmen and terrorists involved in all the killings and destruction of properties are identified, arrested and prosecuted, not only to serve as a deterrent to others, but also to boost confidence in the nation’s security architecture, especially in view of the accusations that some elements of the security services are accomplices of herdsmen. Enough of paying lip service to this national menace.