Another knock came on Tuesday for the proposed cattle colonies by Federal Government as the House of Representatives rejected it and endorsed the establishment of ranches in its stead.
The Lower House choice of ranches was at the instance of a motion titled: “Need to educate and encourage herdsmen on the benefits of ranching instead of the proposed cattle colonies in every state of the federation”, which was moved by Hon. Mohammed Ogoshi Onawo (Nasarawa State).
The lawmakers also called on the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to liaise with its state counterparts to work out modalities on how to realise the goal.
Similarly, the House asked both the federal and state ministries of agriculture to educate and encourage the herdsmen on the benefits of ranching.
While mandating its Committee on Agriculture Production and Services to ensure the implementation, and report within eight weeks for further legislative action, the House asked the Executive arm of government to consider a soft or subsidised loan scheme for herds’ owners to buy lands to encourage them to own ranches.
Leading the debate, Hon. Onawo explained that most of the clashes between the herders and farmers, especially in Benue State was due to the practice of herdsmen roaming across the length and breadth of the country in search of pastures for their cattle, which most cases led to trespassing and damaging of crops and farm produce.
He said: “The House notes the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers that have presented serious security challenges in Nigeria;
“Aware that the grazing practice of the herdsmen is not only exposing them to danger as they fall prey to cattle rustlers and kidnappers, but also results in conflicts with farmers whose crops are trampled upon by the cattle;
“Also notes the Federal Government’s proposal to establish cattle colonies in every state in Nigeria to cater for the herdsmen and their cattle as a lasting solution to the continuous clashes which, in most cases, result in senseless and avoidable loss of life and property;
“Concerned that the decision to establish cattle colonies in each State could be in violation of Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Land Use Act as those colonies will remain the exclusive reserve of the individual state governments and as such, would not guarantee total freedom to the herdsmen;
“Observes that cattle rearing is not an exclusive preserve of the Fulani as other tribes also engage in the business;
“Determined to provide a lasting solution to the incessant conflicts between herdsmen and farm owners, hence modern breeding practices should be encouraged;
“Convinced that ranching will offer longer lasting solution to the recurring conflicts between herdsmen and farmers, if the herdsmen would be fully sensitised and educated about the benefits of the program, as it would enable them assume full ownership of those ranches”.
In his contribution, Hon. Ezikiel Adaji (Benue State) pointed out that “ranching is the best practice all over the world. We cannot continue to witness these incessant killings”.
While Hon. Peter Akpatason (Edo State) said that “cattle rearing is purely a business”, Hon. Femi Fakeye (Osun State) said that “there is need for cultural shift. The herdsmen need to be enlightened on the benefit of ranching”.
*Edo PDP sends Anti-open Grazing Bill to Assembly
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State has forwarded an Anti-Open Grazing Bill to the House of Assembly for consideration.
The party’s state Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, disclosed this on Tuesday in Benin to newsmen.
Orbih said that the PDP titled the proposed law as “A Bill to Prohibit Open Rearing and Grazing of Livestock Administration, Regulation and Control and for Other Matters Connected Therewith’.’
He said that the step was taken in view of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s pronouncement, banning only night grazing by herdsmen in the state.
According to him, the governor’s pronouncement has no force of law and was pretentious.
The chairman said that the pronouncement of the ban on night grazing by herdsmen showed that Obaseki was unaware of events in the state as well as his powers as governor.
He stressed that it was the duty of legislators to make laws, adding that if state government was serious in tackling the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers, it would have forwarded a bill to the legislature.
Orbih said that the Bill, which was sent to the Assembly on Monday, was also sent to all the lawmakers, adding that it proposed ranches as obtained in civilised countries, instead of cattle colonies.
He added that 183 persons had suffered serious injuries from the regular confrontations.
Obaseki had in January, through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, banned night grazing in the state.