Ban On Open Grazing: How Uzodinma Betrayed Other Southern States Governors

 By Stephen Ubanna

Hope Uzoeinma, a former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who came a distant fourth in the 2019, governorship election in the south east sate  of Imo, on the ticket of the All Progressive Congress, APC, and the Supreme Court ,installed  governor of Imo state, appears to have won the heart of President Muhammadu Buharu, a retired army General.

Uzondinma, may have won may have won the heart of the Katsina state  –born Nigerian President  for going against the decision of the 17 southern states governors to ban open grazing in the region. Recall that the Nigerian President and Abubakar  Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and Attorney General of the Federation and minister of Justice, had openly criticized the  southern governors’ decision to ban open grazing in the region. The minister who had had declared the southern governors decision as unconstitutional but that had not stopped the governors from the region from signing the anti-grazing law, in their respective states.

. Note that Uzodinma, the Imo state governor was a signatory to the Communique that was released by the governors after the May, 2021 meeting in Asaba, Capital of Delta state. The governor may have been forced to speak out after a recent meeting with the Nigerian President recently, prior to his visit to the state.  The governor may have won the heart of the retired army General when he said that he has ‘’no plan to ban open grazing Law’’ in Imo, his home state. 

  The Nigerian President may have taken advantage of  the  Imo state governor’s visit to see him at the Presidential villa where he had made an open declaration to opt out of the anti-grazing policy agreed by the  southern governors , including himself, at the Asaba historic meeting last May to extract a $120 million promise  to support the state government‘s Livestock programme.

Uzodinma: Governor Of Imo State

Uzodinma, who could not hide his feelings had told those that cares to listen that Buhari has reconfirmed his promise and has earmarked the state as one of the seven states of the Federation  that would  benefit from the $850 million loan that had  had been secured by the Federal government.

 Hear him: the Federal government has graciously included the state as a beneficiary of its special agricultural Processing Zone Project for Livestock farming. The governor was said to have also revealed   that the state would benefit from a $1.4 billion facility that had been secured by the government from the  world Bank for urban and rural water development.  He may have announced  the Financial support for the state from the Federal government for opting of the Collective decision opt out of the open grazing policy to his Counterparts from other states to do a  rethink on the policy but got it wrong.

Many believe that Buhari may have singled out the Imo state, for financial assistance in its Livestock farming programme to discourage other governors from the three geo-political regions in the southern part of the country from signing the anti-grazing Law and go into Livestock farming in their respective of their political leanings.

.  But he may have made a mistake thinking that by adopting the divide and rule tactics to scatter the 17 southern states governors would work out but failed. This is because the southern governors, which caught  across the parties: APC, Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP and All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA,  were not worried by the President’s Patronage of Uzodinmma,  as 16 of the southern governors were said to have beat the September 1, 2021, deadline to sign the anti-grazing Law.

  The latest to endorse the bill banning open grazing in was Seyi Kehinde, governor of Oyo state, amidst strong opposition from the Leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACABAN.

.T the National level, MACBAN, Leadership, were said to have taken advantage of their close working relationship with the retired army General, who incidentally was their former Patron,  of the Association, to intensify their opposition to the southern states governors’ decision to ban open grazing in their region.

Usman Baba- Ngelzerma, MACBAN, Secretary General, had said that ranches ought to be established in the southern states before the governors took the bold initiative to go ahead with the implementation of the Law banning open grazing in theirmade U-turn to establish a ranch in the state before playing along with his Counterparts in other southern states to sign the Law banning open grazing in the state.

Recall that the southern governors had resolved to pass the Law against open grazing in their respective states  as a solution  to the incessant  invasion of  farlands by armed herdsmen  and the resultant clashes with farmers.

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