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Senate divided as livestock bill scales second reading

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Members of the Nigerian Senate at a plenary


Spokesman insists move unconstitutional, Lawan preaches national interest

The Senate, yesterday, witnessed a sharp division during the consideration of a Bill for an Act to provide for the National Livestock Bureau.
The spokesman, Ajibola Bashiru, a lawyer, in his contribution, reminded the upper legislative chamber that no portion of the exclusive and concurrent components of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) gave the National Assembly powers to legislate on livestock.

He clarified that only the State Houses of Assembly were lawfully empowered to handle the issue, adding that further deliberation on the piece of legislation was unconstitutional.
While no other southern senators spoke, four of their northern colleagues, including the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, backed the bill.

Opposing Bashiru, Senator Bala Ibn N’Allah (Kebbi State) contended that the National Assembly could legislate on the matter, citing no constitutional provision to advance his argument.

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He insisted that it was the duty of the Federal Government to ensure food security in the country. N’Allah’s position got solidarity from Lawan, who indicated that as the chief presiding officer, he had the authority to interpret the constitution and the Senate rules.

He, therefore, overuled the spokesman and sanctioned the second reading and eventual referral of the bill to the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development for report within two weeks.

Lawan held that in February 2010, the National Assembly, without recourse to the constitution, invoked Doctrine of Necessity to usher in Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President, noting that national interest was paramount.

The controversial bill was sponsored by Bima Muhammad Enagi, who also in 2019, was the brain behind a similar one seeking ban on generators.

According to the proposed law, a National Livestock Identification Database is to be created.

The bureau, if established, would ensure the management, traceability and movement of livestock, as well as see their health and disease management through surveillance, prevention and speedy response to outbreaks.

“It will also deter animal theft, especially as it affects cattle rustling and aid intelligence gathering by security agencies to mitigate the incessant conflicts between herders and farmers,” Enagi said.

He added: “The national database would serve as a guide for policy formulation by government. It would also ensure the regulation of participants in the livestock business.”

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in September 2019, inaugurated the National Livestock Transformation Plan at the Gongoshi Grazing Reserve in Mayo-Belwa Local Council of Adamawa State.

He had said the project is running from 2019-2028 as part of Federal Government’s initiative in collaboration with the states under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC).

Osinbajo added that the scheme, targeted at supporting the development of the nation’s livestock sector, was to be implemented in seven pilot states of Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara.

However, since its flag-off, no state in the South has aligned with the programme. They insisted that livestock should be handled as a personal business.

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