By Lateef Adegbite
When the 17 southern states governors irrespective of their political divide, took a decision to ban open gazing in the region, there was nothing Mayetti Allah, Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, COBAN, to use their contacts in the Presidency, to get President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General , to get the governors, to rescind the decision.
Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria , SAN, and who incidentally is the Attorney General of the Federation and minister of Justice, who had kicked against the southern governors’ decision to ban open grazing in the region, had said that ‘’the decision does not align with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, as amended and therefore does not hold water.
The minister may have worsened matters to compare open grazing to the selling of spare parts by Igbo traders in the north. The Kastina born Nigerian President may have shown that he supports Mayetti Allah position on the need for the southern governor s to cancel the policy in their respective states by setting Ibrahim Gambari, a Professor and Chief of Staff Committee ,to look into the source of the bloody clashes between Pastoralists and farmers in different parts of the country, which according to Samuel Ortom, a former minister of State ,Trade, Industry and Investment, during Goodluck Jonathan Presidency and now governor of Benue , had said is more pronounced in the state.
The Committee had recommended the review of the 368 grazing routes across 25 states of the Federation, which Shehu, a Senior Special assistant to the Nigerian President on Median and Publicity , has been approved by the retired army General. He may be waiting for the collection of the field data on the 368 grazing routes in the recommended 25 states across the country to assess the level of encroachment and encroachers, before giving the final directive for the reopening of the grazing routes for Pastoralists.
The southern governors may not have waited for Buhari, to give the ahead for the 368, open grazing routes that have been identified in 25 states of the Federation to be reopened as Buhari has approved as the southern governors in their respective states started presenting the bill prohibiting open rearing and grazing of Livestock and provision of for the establishment of ranches. They had expected that the bills if passed by the various states House of Assembly and subsequently signed into Law, by the governors in their respective states, it would go a long way ‘’to prevent the destruction of farms, crops, ponds, settlements and propertuies caused by open rearing and grazing in livestock farming.
The Leadership of Mayetti Allah, COBAN, may have known the implication of the southern governors signing the prohibition of the open grazing bills in their respective states to Livestock farmers that they have cried out for the Presidency intervention to force the governors to drop the idea. Saleh Alhassan, Secretary General, Mayetti Allah COBAN, had said that the southern governors going ahead to sign the bills, if passed by their respective states House of Assembly into Law , wound amount ‘’to undermining the relative peace and stability currently being enjoyed in the Communities in different parts of the country , as it would threaten social order in the society and excerbate cattle rustling.
Alhassan, may have shown Mayetti Allah COBAN, members , anger, to the southern governors bill prohibiting open grazing in their respectives which have been presented to their states Assembly , for Approval into Law, when he urged the National Assembly and the Presidency to intervene ‘’ to stop the current attempts by the southern governors to Criminalise the northern Pastoralists means of livelihood which is cattle rearing through enacting of satanic and obnoxious Law , they had called anti-grazing Law’’. He has taken advantage of the fact that Buhari is the President to call for the establishment of the ministry of Livestock and Fisheries as obtained in in some countries in Africa. The aggrieved Mayetti Allah, COBAN, Leadership were said to have also called on the Nigerian President ‘’to an inventory of grazing reserves in the country and fully develop at least one , in each Senatorial district.
Unknown to many, the Leadership of Mayetti Allah COBAN, may have read the handwriting on the wall, that with the high level of insecurity in the caused by the Bandits and terrorists from other countries in the SAHEL region, who had penetrated the ranks of the Cattle Breeders in the Nigerian forests to cause trouble in north region to kick against open grazing.
They were said to have sponsored the Grazing Reserves Commission Bill and other Livestock Management bills, in the Buakaoala Saraki, a former governor of Kwara state , led National Assembly , by could not scale through the Assembly. The Mayeitti Allah, COBAN Leadership, may have taken advantage of Ahmad Lawan, a Fulani man , and who incidentally is the Senate President to call for the resuscitation of the bill to rescue the Fulani Pastoralists.
Despite fighting in different fronts to force the southern governors to rescind the decision to sign the prohibition of the open grazing bills in their respective states, some of the governors, whose states House of Assembly have already passed the bill have signed it into Law.
As at Setember September 11, 2021, about 10 southern states were said to have signed the anti-grazing bill into Law and the ban is already been enforced. The states that were said to started enforcing the Law are Eboyi, Abia, Bayelsa, Rivers , Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo, and Lagos. The bill, however, is still in the Legislative process in in Enugu, Akwa Ibom and Delta.
Informed sources told The Value News that the anti-grazing bill has been passed in the south-south of Cross-river, and south west state of Ogun and Osun, awaiting the governor’s assent. Dapo Abiodun, governor of Ogun state and Gboyega Oyetola, hs Cunterpart, in Osun state, appear to be reluctant in signing the bill for now. This is may not be unconnected to the pressure from Aswaju Bola Tinubu, popular, Jagaban, a former governor of Lagos state and the All Progressive Congress, APC, National Leader, who is currently on the sickbed in London, United Kingdom, UK and Obeni Rauf Aregbesola, a former governor of Osun state and now, miniter of Interior, to keep the document on hold. The duo may have been working on the two governors not to go along with the decision of the southern governors ,,even they were part of the decision, in order bot Jeopardise , the Jagaban, Presidential chances, in the 2023, general elections.
The killing of five persons, in Ile-ife, believed to have been master-minded by armed Herdsmen, operating in their hideout in the forest, may have sent a signal, to Governor Oyetola, of Osun state, that he has op option but to sign the anti-grazing bill into Law, before the worst happen in the state. Hpe Uzodinma, governor of Imo state, was said to have opted out of the anti-open grazing bill to avoid playing into the hands of Buhari. The reward, he got was to secure the visit of the Nigeria President to the state on Thursday, Sepember 9, 2021.
Although Aminu Massari, a former Speaker of House representatives and governor of Katsina, home state of Buhari, may not be part of the southern governor’s decision to ban open grazing in their restive states, but he b has bannd the movement of cattle from the north west states to parts of the country, an indirect way of banning open grazing in the state. Note that Gvernor Ortom of Ortom, who has been a thorn in the flesh of Buhari, over the last six years, was the first to sign anti-grazing bill into Law in the country. He had said recently that 100 security Operatives, had been killed by the armed Herders since the Law was promulgated and being enforced in different parts of the state.