In support of the ban on open grazing in southern Nigeria

See you Sunday Onyemaechi Eze

The open grazing of cattle is a serious source of conflict between farmers and shepherds across the country. The frequency with which clashes occur regularly is very alarming and indeed worrying. This ever-growing conflict has become a notorious national tragedy that has failed to attract the deserved urgent attention of those responsible.

Many local farmers and shepherds lost their lives while harvests worth millions of naira went down the drain. Hence the desirability of banning cattle from open grazing in southern Nigeria cannot be overstated.

The International Crisis Group reported: “The spate of attacks and counter-attacks has resulted in high humanitarian and economic casualties, with potentially serious political and security implications.

The humanitarian impact is particularly serious. From September 2017 to June 2018, violence by farmers and shepherds left at least 1,500 dead, many more injured and around 300,000 displaced – an estimated 176,000 in Benue, around 100,000 in Nasarawa, over 100,000 in Plateau, around 19,000 in Taraba and an unknown number in Adamawa . “

According to the group, the main reason for the killings is “the climate-induced degradation of pastures and the increasing violence in the far north of the country, which has forced shepherds to move to the south; the expansion of farms and settlements devouring pasture reserves and blocking traditional migration routes; and the damage to farmers ‘crops caused by shepherds’ indiscriminate grazing. “

According to Amnesty International: “The failure of the Nigerian authorities to investigate community clashes and bring the perpetrators to justice has fueled a bloody escalation in the conflict between farmers and shepherds across the country, which has resulted in at least 3,641 deaths and displacement over the past three years Result. ”Of thousands more.

In a new report, Harvest of Death: Three Years of Bloody Clashes Between Farmers and Herders, Amnesty International found that in 2018, 57 percent of the 3,641 deaths recorded occurred. “The security forces were often positioned near the attacks, which lasted hours and sometimes days, but were slow to act.

In some cases the security forces warned of an imminent raid but did nothing to stop or prevent the killings, looting and burning of houses. ”The loss of human and material resources and the threats to peace, unity and business existence in Nigeria should be a reason for the government to take drastic measures to build peace and restore normalcy.

Aside from banditry, kidnappings, Boko Haram attacks, killings and arson by unknown armed men, there is currently no country in Nigeria that is not facing one or the other farmer / herder crisis. The conflicts have overwhelmed many state governments.

As a result, they often run to the federal government for help, but return empty-handed. The governors are the supposed security chiefs of their states, but they only really exist on paper.

Police commissioners and other heads of security agencies do not take instructions from them. The growing frustration over the protection of the lives and property of citizens in the states is also blatant and worrying. Citizens now see their governors as accomplices in their daily insurmountable tragedy.

It is becoming apparent that the federal government is working with the federal states to find a lasting solution to the conflicts between farmers and shepherds. While all southern governors recently rose at a meeting in Asaba and declared a total grazing ban in the entire region, the federal government insists on the provision of grazing trails for the cattle.

A statement from Garba Shehu – the presidential special senior advisor on the media alleging that the plan proposed by the southern governors to enforce the ban on open grazing was “questionable legality” and a show of force “was a Reference to the position. Even with President Buhari’s recent instruction to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami to unearth newspapers on pastureland, it is clear that the government’s position is an invitation to anarchy.

While many have rightly claimed that the 1978 Land Use Act rendered the 1965 Grasing Reserve Law enacted for northern Nigeria ineffective or completely dead, it remains to be understood how the federal government, which has no legal right to land issues, will guide its policies to the governments of the government Enforce states.

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Since 2015, the number of deaths related to the conflict between farmers and shepherds has grown alarming with no hope of any decrease anytime soon. Therefore, every sane, peace-loving person and government should accept the ban on open grazing and participate in cattle breeding.

It is not worth repeating the fact that ranching and sedentary tendering of cattle and other animals remain the healthier and more productive practices around the world. It is also less of a hassle for the shepherds.

Basic facilities such as schools, hospitals, houses, water and electricity are provided, far from what is available in the bush. It then makes no longer any reason why some people, including a federal government arm, should support an archaic tradition of animal husbandry.

This was the case even when it was obviously identified as a source of an internal conflagration. It is very amazing that those who advocate open pasture nutrition live in select cities and enjoy the good things that living with their families can offer while sneakily encouraging others to live in the bush, to wander and escorting cows from Sokoto to Bayelsa and back in the name of a traditional peasant culture. Some of them recently asked the government to offer alternatives to open pasture.

One is not sure why a private company should ask the government for ideas or logistics on how to improve and keep its business going. There are many well-known plant, fish and poultry breeders across the country. At no time did they pose a threat to their communities or force the government to comply with their wishes in order to keep their personal business.

Even when they do, they understand their role and the limits of their requirements. The question is: why should it only be the herdsmen who are trying to corner the whole nation to make sure their business thrives against others?

It has been concluded that the federal government tacitly supported the shepherds’ controversial activities through body language. Another important point is that many politicians and decision-makers from all regions own cows. Banning their cows on the streets will place a heavy financial burden as they deny them free grass and water.

But the interests of a few should not outweigh that of the nation. They should not be allowed to put the country under permanent pressure with their personal business. The right thing is right and should be done in the interests of peace. It is not enough to make a proper statement and issue a communique at the end of a session.

The joint decision of all governors of the southern states should be supported by a law of the State Houses of Assembly. A state like Ekiti had an anti-open grazing act in place before 2015, while Abia and Bayelsa recently took a cue from Ekiti.

Other states should hurry and follow their example by sending a law against open grazing to their various state assemblies. Furthermore, the beauty of any law for states home and dry with an anti-open-pasture law reflects its effective implementation.

Our country is not making the desired progress because politics, religion, tribalism and ethnicity consciously flow into every national politics and problem. One is forced to contradict positions and unjustified claims that calls to end open grazing are an attack on traditional animal husbandry in the north and the livelihood of shepherds.

The two Miyetti Allah organizations (Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Aaaociation and Miyetti Alalh Katul Kore) should tell the shepherds the truth for once. Southern state governors should also consciously go a step further by educating shepherds about the rewards for ending open grazing. Nobody is proud to suffer.

The shepherds won’t either. Every well-meaning and peace-loving Nigerian should stand behind the southern state governors’ decision to ban open grazing. This is the only way to return to lasting peace between the conflicts between farmers and shepherds in Nigeria.

* Eze, a media and communications specialist, wrote on: sunnyeze02 @ yahoo.com

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