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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

FG’s Move On Grazing Routes

HISTORICALLY, pastoralists are egregious people who move from one location to another, tendering their herds, and eking out a living for themselves. This form of livestock farming has been appropriated by the Fulanis so much that it has more or less become a cultural business, with huge emotional attachment.
THE peripatetic nature of nomads makes them to transgress national and continental borders in a manner that it brings them to confrontation with land owners, particularly farmers, whose crops are destroyed along the line. The foregoing is specifically true of the experiences of herders in Nigeria. The easy movements of herds across the borders of ECOWAS member countries has further worsen the tensions and contestations over space for farming and grazing, between farmers and herders.
IT is saying the obvious that the confrontations between herders and farmers have led to massive destructions of farms, killing of cows as well as maiming and murdering of people. These rages are felt with noticeable reverberations in States like Taraba, Kastina, Benue, Oyo, Plateau, with palpable tensions created across Nigeria, as herders were characterized as rapists, kidnappers and killers.
THIS negative profiling has been reinforced by the brutish behaviours of some arm-brandishing herders, and the provocative outbursts of the umbrella Association of herders, Miyetti Allah. However, notwithstanding the apparent profiling of herders as aggressors, they have also suffered incessant attacks from cattle rustlers, leaving behind sorrows, tears and blood.
THE PMB-led government has been accused of tactically supporting the aggressions of herders through his body language. Incidentally, agents of the government have at various times risen to the defense of herders, in the name of protecting the constitutional rights of Nigerians.
IN an attempt to mitigate these needless consternations, the government has come up with initiatives which include RUGA, Livestock Transformation Plan, grazing reserves and recovery of grazing routes.
HOWEVER, The Hope notes that all these measures have been received with high suspicion by some Nigerians, particularly people in southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt Region who saw the efforts of the Federal Government as an attempt to corner their ancestral lands, and subsequently cede them to the Fulanis.
WE are of the opinion that while cattle grazed in medieval times, modern times, as practiced in other forward-looking countries, require a sustainable process like ranching. This is more so as we believe that open grazing is outdated, oppressive and inhumane, due to the avoidable damages it brings to the economic interests of farmers and the people generally, particularly the opinion that some bad eggs among herders are behind the spates of kidnapping and destructions of farms witnessed across the country.
THE HOPE strongly avers that the Federal Government’s move to reactivate grazing routes is redundant, and the least expected at this period, in the face of other more acceptable options. The fixation on the recovery of grazing routes is more problematic, considering that the Grazing Law so touted by the Federal Government could only be traced to Grazing Law of Northern Region of Nigeria of 1965, which was applicable to the defunct Northern Region.
AS things stand, there is no known Federal legislation on grazing, other than the Land Use Act which empowers Local Governments to grant customary right of occupancy for grazing purposes. In another vein, out of the 417 grazing reserves Nigeria has, with 113 said to be gazetted, only two are in the Southern States of Ogun and Oyo. The foregoing is in addition to the fact that most of the reserves mentioned have been encroached on by industries and residences, over time.
WITH the outlawing of open grazing by some States, especially the unanimity of the Southern States Governors on the proscription, who have keyed into ranching, it is our opinion that it is needless for the Federal Government to continue to follow a route that would continue to engender suspicion and recriminations.
NOTHING should be done to suggest that the Fulanis are superior to other ethnic groups, with Federal Government’s desperation on the matter tantamount to promoting the personal businesses of certain individuals at the detriment of others.
NEVERTHELESS, The Hope notes that herding is not the exclusive preserve of a group or the Federal Government. Southern State Governors are encouraged to invest in ranching to be able to reap the economic benefits rather than getting involved in distractive unending debates. They should access the grants made available to Northern States like Katstina and Kano to develop their ranches for their citizens to run.

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