Grazing reserves may not be ready till 2018
‘How bill will end herdsmen, farmers clashes’
The proposed grazing reserves to curb the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers may not be ready till 2018, according to The Guardian’s investigation.
A source in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture told The Guardian that the Federal Government had taken delivery of the imported seeds from Brazil, but it would take another one and a half years for the grass to be ready for the cattle to feed upon.
He explained that though the grass seeds mature within a period of eight to 12 weeks depending on the rainfall pattern in each ecological zone, there is the need to first establish that the seeds fit into various ecological zones, and also multiply the seeds so that government would not have to depend on importation.
According to the expert, the idea behind the establishment of the grazing reserves is a lofty one that would assist the herdsmen to effectively graze their cattle in line with international standard and also increase milk production.
He said: “The idea is to import improved pasture and establish it to adapt to each ecological zone for a period of one-year, after which the seeds are pushed to the natural habitat. It is not a now-now thing because we have neglected this area for long, but in the interim, farmers can buy crop residue for their cattle and there are new technologies wherein the crop residues can be crushed and stored for a long period of time. ”
Also, the Director of Animal Husbandry, Dr. Eze Egeguru said the reason for importation of grass seeds was to source improved and early-maturing seeds that would boost cattle production in the country. She said Brazil had researched on the grass seed for 18 years and had come up with seeds that are high-yielding, highly nutritive and mature within a short period of time.
A member of the House of Representatives from Yagba Federal Constituency, Kogi State, Sunday Karimi who sponsored the contentious National Grazing Routes and Reserves Bill attributed the public outcry to the “misunderstanding” of the content. In a statement in Abuja yesterday, Karimi said the fear expressed over the grazing bill was hasty and unnecessary “as many have not read the content to digest it.”
According to him, the bill does not prejudice the right of the state to establish and legislate on grazing reserves to be controlled by them or establish ranches and criminalise indiscriminate grazing. To the lawmaker, the bill will solve the problem of cattle rustling, herdsmen violence, among others.
He said suggestions and modifications were welcome from Nigerians while “members of the public are welcome to the public hearing when scheduled.”
Contrary to the fear expressed in many quarters that communities would lose their land and ownership of such land transferred to the herdsmen, the lawmaker said the land to be allocated for grazing would be managed by a grazing reserves commission to be established by the bill and the commission is to have representatives in the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT Abuja.
He disclosed that membership of the commission is to be drawn from the land use allocation committee of each state and that of the FCT Abuja.
He said: “When we have a national problem on our hands like we are having it with the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers and communities, several lives lost on daily basis, what is expected of people in position of leadership? Do we fold our hands and say to your tents oh Israel?
“The function and responsibilities of the representatives of the people in the parliament include making good laws for peace, order, good governance and unity of our diverse citizenry. What we are doing is finding a solution to a problem that has defied all solutions essentially for several years. So, in the first place, we have a problem that got everybody thinking. The bill should be considered a solution being proffered. Those who are against the bill, criticising the effort do not even bother to know the content. There are no perfect laws, but this bill, when patiently studied, is a good law. Unfortunately, anytime we have a situation like this in this country, we tend to succumb quickly to sectional, tribal and religious sentiments.
“Tribes and tongues may differ, in the spirit of nationhood, the National Assembly must continue to make laws that will keep us together as a nation. This subject is about the Fulani. Now the Fulani in Lagos State, can you just tell them to leave? The answer is no. They are Nigerians like you. You have your kinsmen in Sokoto and other parts of the north doing their trades, nobody can wake up one day and tell them to leave. They are Nigerians as well. What we are trying to do is to see how we can identify and deal with the criminals among the herdsmen. This is the target of the bill.”
Meanwhile, the Igbo World Assembly (IWA) has condemned the activities of Fulani herdsmen in the South East and other parts of the country, wondering why the herdsmen should be allowed to carry concealed weapons to kill innocent citizens in their communal farmlands.
The Igbo World Assembly, in a statement jointly signed by its Chairman, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze, and Secretary General, Oliver Nwankwor, yesterday said that the corporate unity of Nigeria was being seriously challenged by the menace of the herdsmen.
To IWA, this insensitive behaviour and inaction of government gives credence to the agitation of Biafra and Oduduwa out of this present Nigeria. “Who actually owns the herds? Why are the herdsmen allowed to carry weapons? Why are the security forces in Nigeria not doing their job? Who are behind this systematic agenda? Who regulates the activities of the herdsmen and their herds? ” the group asked.
With this development, the group called on southern governors, senators, members of the House of Representatives and state assemblies to act and defend their people. “What we do not want is to reach a situation whereby citizens will arm themselves and protect their lives.”
IWA noted that the first duty of the government is the protection of lives and property of its citizens, adding that it is illegal for citizens of Nigeria to possess and bear arms.
“Yet the marauding herdsmen are violating the second point above and the tiers of governments are not performing their duties, leaving the impression that there might be a collusion between the herdsmen and the governments. To make matters worse, the representatives of the people, such as the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives also leave the impression that they are part of this conspiracy.”
The group urged the governments to immediately establish rules controlling the movement of animals within their areas and enforce the rules aggressively.