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Grazing routes: Suspense as debate goes to the wire

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(Photo by Luis TATO / AFP)

There is palpable apprehension nationwide, as the search for solution to the clashes between herdsmen and farmers, which have intensified across the country in recent time, seems not yielding the desired results.

Already, the problem is threatening the corporate existence of the country, with the increased killing and maiming of innocent and helpless citizens; destruction of farmlands and farmsteads; low agricultural output resulting in high cost of produce, increased hunger, poverty and criminality, and descent to ethnic jingoism.

Conscious of the telling effects of the clashes on the country, the Federal Government has been making multi-faceted efforts to address the security challenge.

Among such efforts was the plan by the Federal Government, in 2018, to establish cattle colonies for herdsmen. But many states kicked against the initiative, describing it as a ploy to forcefully snatch lands for the use of Fulani herdsmen perceived as armed militia whom they feared would later unleash terror on their host communities.

Faced by widespread opposition to the plan, especially in the southern and Middle Belt parts of the country, the Federal Government later came up with the Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) initiative.

THE then Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who unveiled the initiative, had said: “Just 10 days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari approved a programme called the Ruga settlement. We are going to build settlements where herders will live, grow their cattle and produce milk. The milk will be bought by a milking parlour, thus preventing their wives from moving around with milk. This is especially to avert any conflict between the herders and the farmers.”

Corroborating Ogbeh, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Umar, had, while speaking on the sidelines of the West Africa Antimicrobial Resistance Workshop in Abuja, also noted that the Ruga settlements would attract investors to Nigeria and that many states had indicated interest in the programme.

“The Ruga settlement is one of the very important things being done by the ministry and it is one of the best things that can happen not only to Nigeria but to most of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a concept that we developed to deal with internal security.

“We felt that to do away with herders-farmers’ conflict, we need to settle our nomads and those who breed animals. We want to put them in a place that has been developed as a settlement, where we provide water for their animals, pasture, schools for their children, security, agro-rangers, and so on.

“We also felt that we need to develop cattle markets whereby you don’t need to be transporting animals through very long distances. We will also bring in investors that will set up modern centres where cattle breeders can slaughter their animals. When we do that, a lot of other things will come up.

“We are going to change their (herdsmen) lifestyle, take them away from our streets and from wandering in the bush and develop districts, hamlets and towns and definitely in the next five to 10 years, you will never see a nomad moving about, wandering or kidnapping. And this will end all these security challenges,” Umar said.

Despite these explanations, the initiative was met with stiff opposition, as many states insisted that they had “no land for grazing reserves, grazing routes, cattle colonies or Ruga settlements.”

The Federal Government later came up with the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), under which federal and Adamawa, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Oyo, Plateau, Taraba and Zamfara states agreed to set up cattle ranches. The programme was planned to cost N179 billion over a period of 10 years. The two tiers of government were to jointly spend N70 billion in the first three years of the pilot phase of the programme.

However, some stakeholders in the country kicked against the NLTP, describing it as a clone of the Rural Grazing Area (RUGA). Nevertheless, the government forged ahead with the initiative as it was set to launch a pilot programme of the scheme in Adamawa, Nasarawa and Plateau states as at February 2020. But it would appear that the COVID-19 pandemic and dwindling revenue of the federal and state governments have made the plan a non-priority in the face of other pressing national projects.

Unfortunately, the herders-farmers crisis has continued to claim lives in scores just as thousands have been displaced from their homes. To stem the tide of the ugly situation, 17 Southern governors, at their recent meeting in Asaba, Delta State, placed a ban on open grazing.

But in what seemed a counter move, President Muhammadu Buhari, while speaking in an exclusive interview with Arise TV penultimate Wednesday, disclosed his administration’s resolve to restore what he claimed to be designated grazing routes used by herdsmen to move cattle to several parts of the country during the First Republic.

The President disclosed that he had asked the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to begin the process of recovering land from persons who have converted cattle grazing routes for their personal use.

His words: “What I did was ask him to go and dig the gazette of the First Republic when people were obeying laws. There were cattle routes and grazing areas. Cattle routes were for when they (herdsmen) are moving up country, north to south or east to west, they had to go through there.

“If you allow your cattle to stray into any farm, you are arrested. The farmer is invited to submit his claims. The Khadi or the judge will say pay this amount and if you can’t the cattle is sold. And if there is any benefit, you are given and people were behaving themselves. In the grazing areas, they built dams, put windmills in some places, there were even veterinary departments so that the herders are limited. Their route is known, their grazing area is known. So, I asked for the gazette to make sure that those who encroached on these cattle routes and grazing areas will be dispossessed in law and try to bring some order back into the cattle grazing.”

This proposition by the President has elicited variegated reactions from different quarters in the past few days.

In the following reports, which contains reactions from virtually all strata of society including farmers, top flight politicians, elder statesmen and civil society activists, The Guardian takes the discourse further, amid the suspense that now pervades the search for an end to the herders-farmers clashes in the country.

‘It’s Anachronistic To Think About Cattle Routes At This Time’
Prof. Agu Gab Agu is a professor of Law and former Dean, Faculty of Law, Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). He told LAWRENCE NJOKU in Enugu, why federal government should not contemplate reclaiming grazing routes for cattle rearers.

What do you think about the move by the Federal Government to reopen grazing routes for cattle rearers?
WHERE will those cattle be going? I was encouraged when they were rebuilding train stations and tracks, because that, to me, is required for improvement on economic development. Why should we be talking about cattle routes at this time? They should be talking about donkey and camel routes as well. It does not exist in this part of the country. I think it is only in the north that they have such. But I am not even sure that it is backed by adequate legislation; so on what point is the person going to stand to implement it?

There were a few things that were done in those days to aid movement of people so that they could reduce congestion on major ways. It does not have legal backing and it is anachronistic to think about cattle routes at this time. Is there any law backing cattle as having rights to free movement in Nigeria? Those fuelling this should consider some of these things. It is unfortunate that we are thinking in this direction instead of issues that should deepen development in Nigeria.

Was there a time we had grazing routes?
In the past, there were what could be called footpath, motor path and what have you. Those were drawings made and eventually improved on by our local technicians, but it is not something that has legal backing. So, it becomes difficult to enforce. It was an ill-advised attempt. The Attorney General is a thorough man and I am thinking he did not look through the books properly to be giving his support for this.

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President Buhari thinks that restoring grazing routes would end the frequent clashes between herders/farmers…
Will it mean that cattle will not travel by trucks and rail again; that they should just have their own carriageway to move? These cattle will still be transported to wherever they want them to go. Why are they looking for their own routes? This is the big question those driving the process should answer. If you have cattle routes, will you also approve motor route and other routes for goods and services? It does not make sense to me for anybody to be saying that grazing routes will cure incessant farmers/herders clashes. The person should tell us how that arrangement can provide solution to the menace.

I think what they are trying to say is that while the cattle are travelling on the routes, they will be grazing without trespassing on farms…
Why should they graze alongside? Do they own those places that they are travelling on? Anyhow you look at it, they will still encroach into people’s farms and homes and that will be compounding the problem you are trying to solve.

The root cause of our problem is that these cattle graze on people’s farms; they destroy farms and attack farmers in the process. I don’t think that any farmer will be happy to hear that the Federal Government is considering grazing routes for cattle. In other climes, what they think about is ranch. What the Federal Government is thinking about is what had severally been said to be a private enterprise. It worries me that they come up with such idea from time to time as if there is no other enterprise that yields revenue for the nation.

Anybody who wants to go into cattle business should have a place where he can do it. The person should acquire land to do the business. The government should leverage on the Land Use Act to acquire land for ranching if that is the prerogative of the government, which of course should not be. That is because if you do it, those growing chicken, goat and other animals will tell you they are entitled to their own routes. Why is the government trying to create good business for ventures that do not pay tax to government? Why are they interested in one area of agricultural enterprise that would not serve the generality of the people? I don’t think it is fair.

What is your suggestion to the Federal Government on how to handle the crisis other than restoring grazing route?
The movement from one place to another, from one region to another, is fueling crisis between herders and farmers. People buy land to do piggery business. I have land that I bought for piggery business. Those who want to do cattle business should also acquire land to do it. That is a simple solution.

Cattle, as a matter of fact, don’t eat what is on the road any longer; they have already prepared food. We have moved away from those days when everywhere was bush. We are going to an age where even their foods are packaged and you buy the quantity you want to buy. Why should there be subvention for everything about cattle, even when they are not state- owned? It is an unfair competition for those who grow animal protein. It is not a way of encouraging farmers, no matter how you look at it.

There are suspicions that such move by the government is a way of acquiring land unfairly from people and expanding private businesses of those involved in it?
That is the general notion, to which the president should be encouraged to respond. I don’t think protein from cattle is better than others. I don’t think its protein content is more nutritious than others and that is why I wonder what government has in mind when they attempt to promote this kind of endeavour. So, there is a need for the government to convince Nigerians that there are no other motives behind what they are trying to do. When that is done, I think it will put some speculations at rest.

In the event that the Federal Government continues with the effort, what options are available to states?
I said earlier that we don’t have cattle routes here. Who is bringing them and where are they going? It is only in the north. But where they insist, the state government can challenge it in the court because there is no proper legislation that has carved out those lands as existing routes for cattle.

What the Federal Government is trying to do is to introduce it and if you are trying to introduce such, you go through the state governments. Section 5 of the Land Use Act makes the governor the trustee of all lands in his state. Nobody says that the Federal Government cannot have access to land, but you apply through the states to get it. When you apply, they will tell you that they don’t have land for such project and there is nothing you can do about it.

But that will be fuelling more tension…
Of course! They know that when states say they don’t have land for the project to thrive, going against their wish could create chaos. So, we expect that a sensible government will listen to the heartbeat of the people and not do things because you think it will favour a segment of the society.

Chief Oluyemisi Samuel Falae

It’s Improper For FG To Champion Cattle Business, Falae, Others Insist
From Oluwaseun Akingboye, Akure
A FORMER Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae, cautioned the Federal Government against pursuing the open grazing policy, alleging that President Buhari was patronising the Fulani ethnic group at the expense of the nation.

Also, a popular social crusader, Mr. Femi Odofin, said that grazing routes were outdated and shouldn’t be the norm in any civilised clime.

Odofin disclosed that the practice was fraught with series of abnormalities that led to frequent farmer/herders clashes, resulting in avoidable bloodbath.

“It is crystal clear that grazing routes can’t solve the current terror attack on the farmers and villagers by herdsmen. The President has no locus standi to enforce grazing routes in the country because the Land Use Act puts governors in charge of land in their states.

“The President can only influence or lobby the governors not by being autocratic. As it stands in Nigeria today, it is the prerogative of any state governor to decide on ranches or grazing routes in his state,” he said.

As a lasting solution to the herders-farmers clashed, he suggested that the government should partner with the private sector to set up ranches across the country.

“Let there be ranches in each state in which a chain of economic activities will evolve and a lot of parties will derive economic value from them,” he added.

The social crusader cautioned: “If the President believes he can enforce the grazing routes without the approval of the state governors, then an unending crisis looms in the country.”

Falae, whose farms had been constantly set on fire by suspected cattle herders, said: “The advisers of the President should have handled the matter carefully. Some of us spent many years at the very top of government as advisers. I think the present advisers to the Federal Government should do their jobs.

“They should not allow the President to make statements that are not implementable, ridiculous and amount to provocations in many parts of the country. They should advise him, guide him and manage the situation so that we can remain at peace with one another.

“It is unfortunate that he made such a statement because I can’t see where cattle routes can be reactivated in Nigeria of today.”

The former SGF pointed out that cattle rearing is not a Federal Government’s project, it is a business of the Fulani and other farmers in the country.

“It is a private business. Why should it become the concern of the Federal Government? We should allow private people to do private business and government should not champion some private business of some part of the country against other business people in other parts of the country.

“It is when security is involved that government can come in and provide security. But to start championing cattle rearing as if it belongs to the government is not proper,” he added.

Citing the Holy Bible, Falae noted that Abraham and Lot were open grazers. “You don’t go to Israel today and find cattle at the airport; or on your way to Tel-Aviv will you find cattle people. So, the world has changed; modernity has taken over the countries.

“When I was a child, I used to trek from Akure to Ilu-Abo every Friday after close of school to return on Sunday morning. Do people still do that now? You either go in cars or motorcycle; the world is changing and will continue to change.”

The elder statesman further argued that cattle ranching is a profitable business that does not need any government subsidy or advocacy. He said the owners could acquire land, get the right specie and the required skills to set it up.

“That is the way the world has gone and the way we have to go now. We are telling the Federal Government to stop this advocacy for cattle men. Nigerians will not accept it. I will not accept for cattle to continue to eat my crops and destroy my farm.

“I think I was one of the first victims of herdsmen. I am not bitter but I will not accept it. Nigerians are not accepting it; this thing is destabilising Nigeria and we must save the country. If we are not careful, this cattle nonsense will break up Nigeria,” he warned.

Speaking from a legal point of view, a constitutional lawyer, Mr. Bosun Otitoju, said there should be effective regulation of grazing and farming activities in Nigeria through efficient land use laws and administration.

“In the first place, it is an incontrovertible fact that the issue of open grazing had since 1969 been abolished with the judgment of the court, per Justice Adewale Thompson, wherein the honourable court banned open grazing.

“Aside that, it is pertinent to observe that the governors are, by the provisions of Section 2 of the Land Use Act, the trustees of the land in their states, hence the reason for the decision of some southern states as well as Benue State enacting anti-open grazing laws which the court has upheld as constitutionally upright.”

To him, the issue of open grazing routes is appalling and preposterous, and tantamount to making Nigeria stagnant and unwilling to embrace the innovative trends of the 21st century.

Otitoju stated that civilisation has discarded primitive, retrogressive and archaic agricultural practices like open grazing.

“It is a fact that rather than blessing, open grazing has brought and foisted upon Nigerians various crimes, including kidnapping and robbery.

“It has also created several national problems like threats to national integration, food insecurity, economic instability and hindrance to sustainable national development.

“For me, a nation like Nigeria labelled as ‘Giant of Africa’ should be seen, indeed, as a pacesetter and an embodiment of innovative and development trends in Africa. Succinctly put, we should have a paradigm shift from those archaic practices and embrace modernity,” Otitoju said.

Ranching

Ranching Is Way Forward, Say Taraba Speaker, Farmers
From Charles Akpeji, Jalingo
THE Federal Government’s plan to reopen grazing routes across the country is not supported by prominent indigenes and farmers in Taraba State.

Some of the farmers and prominent individuals, who spoke with The Guardian, stated that rather than reopening the routes, the government should encourage cattle rearers to adopt ranching. This, according them, is the surest way to end farmers and herders clashes in the country.

Speaker of the House of Assembly, Joseph Albasu Kunini, who condemned the farmers-herders conflict, said it had become intractable because it had been given political colouration.

Speaking at a two-day event which was organised for stakeholders from Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states to review the emerging conflicts, risks and opportunities for collaboration against insecurity, as well as assess progress made across the three states in the Middle Belt region, Kunini said ranching was the way out of the problem.

“All critical stakeholders must agree to sensitise and conscientise the people that time has come to adopt ranching as the global best practice in livestock production, devoid of political and tribal sentiments,” he said.

Recalling how the Taraba State government sponsored the legislators and other stakeholders to Nairobi, Kenya and Brazil to study modern methods of livestock production, which could be replicated in the state, the speaker said:
“While there, we discovered that both countries had long adopted ranching as lasting solution to farmers-herders conflict and wondered why the experience in Nigeria is being politicised.

“When we resolved that we were going to pass the Taraba State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Bill 2017, there was stiff resistance by the opponents who refused to present any memorandum at the public hearing in order to kill the bill. The problem is political because we refused to sensitise and conscientise the people on the enormous advantages of ranching to the herders.

“The reality is that not all Fulani are herders, some are farmers. Also, there are some non-Fulani who are herders; unfortunately they are not recognised as such.”

Also decrying the Federal Government’s plan, farmers in the state, who spoke with The Guardian, said: “If actually President Buhari has the interest of the people at heart, he should work out plans of adopting ranching system and not reopening of cattle routes.”

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No Nigerian Law Supports Open Grazing – Lawyer
From Gordi Udeajah, Umuahia
IN Abia State, there are indications that the plan to re-open grazing routes across the country is unpopular among the residents.

A constitutional lawyer, Chief Aloy Ejimakor, told The Guardian that there was no extant law supporting open grazing in the country. He submitted that before a herdsman could graze, he would have to enter another person’s land, therefore, he must obtain permission from the owner of the land.

“If the herdsman is grazing on his own land, it does not implicate any legal, safety or economic issues because the land belongs to him. But when he goes upon another man’s land to graze without permission or some leave and license, he commits civil and criminal trespass,” the lawyer said.

According to him, there is no written law in Nigeria that permits herders to enter into another man’s land without the owner’s permission. He further argued that without any new law banning open grazing, southern governors could assert their authority under extant laws.

He cited Section One of the Land Use Act, which provides that, “Subject to the provisions of this Act, all land comprised in the territory of each state in the federation are hereby vested in the governor of that state.”

Ejimakor expressed surprise that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice appears to be unaware of the 1969 ruling by Justice Adewale Thompson.

“That ruling was never set aside or varied and that makes it part of the laws of Nigeria when it comes to open grazing. It is pertinent to state that the ruling was made in the context of the ‘farmer-herder conflict’ of that era. That is what we used to have then. What we have now is ‘herder-terrorism’ that requires new measures that should be more drastic than the purports of that ruling,” Ejimakor said.

On his part, a public affairs analyst, Chief Prosper Johnson, urged Nigerians to adopt the cattle rearing options that have been successfully practiced in other climes.

Afe Babalola

President Buhari Is Obviously Wrong, There Is No National Grazing Route Established And Protected By Law – Afe Babalola
President Buhari’s decision to revert to the original open grazing routes has continued to generate furore among Nigerians. Eminent lawyer and elder statesman, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) spoke to MUYIWA ADEYEMI, Political Editor and DANIEL ANAZIA on the issue.

Is the President right with his decision to revert to the old grazing routes that were gazetted years ago? Does the policy still have a place in modern Nigeria?
YOUR question assumes two things that are not absolutely correct. Firstly, it assumes that there were actually grazing routes that crisscrossed the entirety of Nigeria and secondly that the said grazing routes were gazetted. To answer your question, Mr. President is obviously wrong, as there is no national grazing route established and protected by law.

The grazing routes gazetted and recognised by law existed only in states created from the old/ pre- 1966 Northern Nigeria. The laws recognising grazing routes being state laws are inferior to the Land Use Act – a federal law – so that a governor in any of the 19 Northern States can, pursuant to the Land Use Act, lawfully direct that a grazing route be converted to a road or secondary school in line with what he believes is the overriding public interest.

The President has no power or right to advance or implement any policy or agenda in relation to the use of land. By virtue of Section 1 of Land Use Act, only the governor of a state can implement any policy or agenda in relation to the use of land. Open grazing is already prohibited in several states of the federation.

Accordingly, a grazing route, which is to traverse all the states of the federation, is not feasible. As open grazing is unlawful in those states, it is impracticable to implement a nation-wide open grazing route that will extend to those states.

What is or are the implication(s) of the President decision?
The implication is simple and it is that the government will be acting contrary to the law. As I stated earlier, land is vested in the governor of a state. The Land Use Act itself enjoys special protection under the constitution. So it will be unconstitutional to embark on the line of action suggested by the President.

Looking at the state of our nationhood, should the country be talking about grazing routes in the 21st century? The conflict between herdsmen and farmers is as old as mankind itself. However, whilst other countries have developed modern means to resolve this conflict, we appear stuck in the past. The building of ranches is the solution and not grazing routes in the 21st century. Government should come up with policies to aid the construction of ranches.

Are the governors right with their decision to ban open grazing especially as land in the Nigeria law context belongs to the states?
They are obviously right. As I stated earlier, land is vested in the governors. Furthermore, as unguarded grazing and destruction of crops have continued to bring about conflict between farmers and herdsmen, the governors are well within their powers to ban open grazing so as to prevent further bloodshed and destruction of farmers’ means of livelihood.

What are the implications of the governors’ decision, especially when they are yet to provide alternative for herders in their respective states?
It is not the place of government to provide alternatives for the herders, as it is a private business that some have chosen to engage in. All that government can do is to put in place measures that will assist those interested to set up ranches. I do not think government should get to the point where it will begin to make special provisions for herders.

What is the direction to go at this point?
There must be continued dialogue towards finding a lasting solution. However, that process cannot be helped if the government at any level is seen to be more sympathetic to one side than the other. At the moment, the stance of the Federal Government strongly suggests that it is more concerned about herders and less so about farmers many of whom have lost their lives and means of livelihood to the conflict. At the risk of repetition, I must emphasize that ranching offers the best solution and this is where government should direct its attention.

Cattle

‘Nigeria Has Moved Forward And Should Not Think Of Open Grazing At This Time’
From Seye Olumide (South West Bureau Chief) and Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan)
TWO groups, PAN-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere and All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Oyo State as well as a security scholar at the University of Ibadan, Prof. Oyesoji Aremu, expressed reservations over the plan by the Federal Government to reclaim grazing routes.

The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Comrade Jare Ajayi, said it was disheartening and disappointing that President Buhari would be talking about grazing routes at this time.

“One would expect that if he or any other top government official talks about it, it would be in the past tense, something we have passed behind. In other words, open grazing of cattle, which feeds on grazing routes, is anachronistic and obsolete in the modern world of the 21st century even under normal circumstances. But circumstances are not even normal in Nigeria in view of the enormous loss of lives, properties and disharmony that open grazing has caused in the country. So, the situation in Nigeria is such that we should be talking of and encouraging ranching rather than talking of creating or re-opening grazing routes.

“For President Buhari to bring the issue up in the manner he did shows clearly that he does not seem to be in sync with what obtains globally in this era. Secondly, he is not necessarily after what would serve the best interest of majority of Nigerians. Thirdly, it shows that policies of expediency that satisfy a particular ethnic group or a favoured interest rather than policies that promote peace and harmony for everybody are what our president prefers. And that is unfortunate,” he said.

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Ajayi said that Afenifere was concerned that of all the suggestions that have been made on how to resolve the challenges that grazing of cattle has thrown up, the only thing that was in the mind of the president was to re-open the grazing routes. He canvassed that open grazing and the attendant routes for cattle to graze should be completely outlawed.

“The bill for the restructuring of the country should be promptly sent to the National Assembly by the president. If the country is restructured with each region in charge of its own affairs, those that are enamoured by open grazing can turn the streets in their states to grazing routes if they like, while those who believe in ranching would be free to engage in that form of rearing livestock,” he added.

Prof. Aremu, a security expert at the University of Ibadan, said: “The call for grazing routes mooted by the President a few days ago would further worsen agitation of herdsmen in the country when in actual fact, the realities on ground cannot promote it in any form. It is, therefore, very retrogressive for anyone to be tinkering with the idea some 57 years after it was a law only in the Northern part of the country.

“Development and civilisation have taken centre stage of our nationhood; the country has moved beyond it, given various developments. The questions are: Where are the said routes again? Have developments not obliterated the routes? Do the routes extend to other parts of the country where herdsmen now have their cattle? Who in the final analysis (if at all grazing routes exist) would benefit from it? Could the Federal Government guarantee security of lives and property in the course of movements on the said routes? And would that not further worsen the fragile insecurity in the land? Basically, the dynamics of its operations do not favour realities on ground; and thereby, making the idea very uncomplimentary.

“In effect, Nigeria has moved forward and should be seen to be at par with other countries who have successfully established ranches for the pastoralists. This is not the time to be thinking of such a venture in Nigeria”.

The varsity teacher further said: “The Federal Government should just take the bull by the horns by providing enabling environment for ranches. It could be a public-private partnership initiative where interested pastoral farmers would approach the state governments for land.

In other cases, it could solely be a private venture where land could be leased for ranches on certain agreements that will be beneficial to both parties.

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“These ideas are not only in tandem with best practices globally, they could as well ensure safety and peace.

The ideas would also make pastoralism much more profitable and secured for all. Therefore, the Federal Government should not dissipate energy on another needless venture that could further heat up the polity”.

The Oyo State Chairman of AFAN, John Olaleru, said: “There should not be anything like that. Why must cattle rearing be different from other forms of livestock business? Any one who wants to do cattle business must confine his or her cattle to a certain place. It is a private investment. Why must the President be so interested in a particular private investment? Why must one business inconvenience another business?  Why must one business create nuisance? If the government must help them, it should not be at the expense of others.”

In a similar vein, one of the prominent agitators for Oduduwa Republic, Prof. Seth Akintoye, said Buhari’s insistence on open grazing routes had vindicated the separatist group’s demand that the present system has no respect for other ethnic nationalities except Fulani.

It’s Not The Right Way To Go, Declares Delta Farmer
From Monday Osayande, Asaba
A FARMER in Delta State, Prince Dave Okpogadie, said reopening of cattle crazing routes in Nigeria in the 21 first century would be abnormal and anachronistic.

Okpogadie told The Guardian in Asaba that reopening of grazing routes would make Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of nations, because cattle rearing in the country is still at the lowest ebb when compared to countries like Brazil and Argentina.

“Those in Latin America have hundred of millions of cattle, yet they limit them to ranches; they don’t go about destroying people’s farms or trespassing on people’s land and property,” he said.

The popular farmer, who hails from Emenvon in Isoko North of Delta State, added: “As far as I’m concerned, reopening grazing route is not the right way to go.”

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On the way forward, he urged the government to build ranches for cattle herders, insisting that leading cattle on the roads has become an old practice.

“It affects farmers negatively because the cattle will continue to destroy people’s farms, and farmers will continue to react and there will be skirmishes between farmers and herders which usually lead to loss of lives”, he added.

‘Cattle Grazing Routes Only Exist In Northern Nigeria Laws’
By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
FOR the Executive Director of Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP), Adetokunbo Mumuni, cattle grazing routes are only part of northern Nigerian laws.

According to him, there is nothing that could be done unless the law is nationalised.

“It has been a part of the northern Nigerian laws even before our independence. So, I don’t think anything new exists.

“Matters of legislature are matters that will have impact on the people; that is the way I see it. Once a legislation answers the needs and the immediate demands of the local people, then to me, it is a legislation that should be adopted. But to decide to domesticate it for the whole of Nigeria is what I don’t think is the right thing to do whether at the state or federal level,” he said.

On the way forward, Mumuni said “anybody that attempts, either directly or indirectly to violate any law existing in Nigeria must be dealt with as a criminal, whether you are a cattle rearer or an Igbo man who sells in the market or a Yoruba man who is a fisherman.

“Whoever it is, anyone that goes contrary must be dealt with according to the law and that is the only way we can have progress. In terms of enforcing the law strictly and efficiently, I am up for it.”

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