By Charles Nwabardi
Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, (MACBAN) has requested the Delta State Government to grant its members 750,000 square meters of land as designated space for grazing and ranching as deliberations progress on the Anti-Open Grazing Bill which is before the State House of Assembly.
SECURITY REPORTERS.com gathered that against the 125,000 hectares of land proposed in the “Delta State Livestock Breeding, Rearing and Marketing Regulation Bill, 2021,” which translates to 5000 hectares of land in each of the 25 local government areas of the State, Miyetti Allah (MACBAN) is requesting for 30,000 hectares of land per local government.
Section 8 (1) of the Bill states that; “There shall be the establishment of designated areas for Livestock Breeding, Rearing and Marketing… and Section (2) states that the designated areas referred to in the subsection (1) of this Section shall comprise: (a) ‘A minimum of 5,000 square meters land’ set aside in every local government to build ranches.
MACBAN’s interest was revealed during the public hearing on the Bill for a Law to provide for Regulation of Livestock Breeding, Rearing and Marketing and to Prohibit Open Grazing and related matters in Delta State, held Monday, 26th July 2021.
The group, determined to have its way, is said to have mobilized huge funds to woo members of the State House of Assembly to jack up the proposed 5000 hectares to a minimum of 15,000 hectares per local government area.
The move, it was gathered, started before the state lawmakers went on a training programme with a source privy to the plot affirming that the group has secured the support of about nine members of the House, but was yet to get the needed majority before the lawmakers travelled.
According to our source, “As soon as they return from their trip, the group will reach out to more lawmakers with a mouthwatering offer they cannot refuse. They are aware that most of the lawmakers can barely pay their bills because the executive has starved them to submission, so they can throw carrot at them.”
It was further gathered that some influential members of the Delta State House of Assembly might have been compromised by MACBAN with a move to grant them something in the range of 10,000 hectares to 15,000 hectares of land when the House finalizes on the Bill.
Recall that the Southern Governors met in Delta State few months ago and collectively agreed to enact laws banning open grazing in the southern Nigerian by August ending, following the criminal activities of some herdsmen which have led to a bloody clash with farmers.
So far, only eight southern states have met the deadline set by the governors, enacting laws prohibiting open grazing of cattle. States now with established laws include Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Abia and Imo.
The Bill has also been passed by the legislature in Osun and Ogun states awaiting governor’s assent, while the legislative process is going on in Delta, Lagos, Enugu and Akwa-Ibom states. For now, there is no ban or process to ban open grazing in Anambra, Edo and Cross-Rivers States. In the North, Benue and Taraba states have passed anti-open grazing laws.
Speaking on the controversial request by the MACBAN, Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu on ‘The Morning Show’ on Arise TV’ said the law to ban open grazing in the state would promote healthy and harmonious living among farmers and herders.
He noted that the law was not targeted at any section of the society but to provide a healthy living among stakeholders in the farming and cattle rearing business.
Aniagwu said that the constant clashes between farmers and herders in the country necessitated the call for legislation to ban open grazing, especially in Southern Nigeria.
He blamed President Muhammadu Buhari for not providing adequate leadership in resolving the crisis adding that the State House of Assembly had conducted a Public hearing on the Bill before going on recess.
Assuring that the Bill for Delta would be passed as soon as the Assembly returns from their annual recess, Aniagwu stated, “Let’s take away the politics and the primordial sentiments from the crisis. I do not blame these individuals who are opposed to the ban on open grazing.
“I blame the President because I assume that he should be able to understand. Those who advise him, have a clearer picture of what obtains in advanced societies. The crop is the source of livelihood of the farmer even as the cattle are also the source of livelihood of the herder.
“How do you strike a balance if the source of the livelihood of the herder now progresses to a level where it subjects the farmer to abject poverty on account of the regular trampling on the farms, produce and crops of this farmer which of course has been the centre of the clashes between these two very important sectors of our economy.”
He said the President had not provided leadership in resolving the crisis adding that the proposed bill has a proposal for 5,000 hectares of land designated for regulated or restricted grazing and ranching in every local government area
“Here in Delta, we are very determined to regulate it not to only ban grazing in open areas but to promote healthy living between the owners of the livestock and of course those of us who are either into consumption, marketing, breeding or rearing”, he stressed.
Speaking also as a guest on ‘The Morning Show’ on Arise TV’ Baba Ngezarma, National Secretary Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, said that his members were not opposed to ranching, as being advocated by many Nigerian, adding that they are only asking for more time for their members to transit to a modern way of the cattle business.
He noted that most of the anti-Open grazing laws passed by some of the states are targeted at a section of the country without allowing them to make representations or inputs to the law because its members would be most affected if implemented as passed.
He commends the Delta State Government and the House of Assembly for allowing them to state their case as a critical stakeholder during the public hearing, adding that they hope that their submission would be considered in the final draft of the law.
According to Ngezarma,” We as civilized people know that the responsibility of making laws lies with the state House of Assembly, and when a law is made and assented to, by the state government that law became a law, whether we like it or not. However, what we are advocating is that in the process of making such laws we get the stakeholders through public hearing to ensure that they make a contribution to the making of such law and that their concerns are entertained.
“This process is not following in most of the state the law were passed, our members were not invited to make inputs and the law will affect them and their means of livelihood, we are part of the critical stakeholders that are supposed to be invited during the public hearing, but this is not done in most of the state that have passed the law.
“These people’s interest was also supposed to be protected by the law too, but today what we have is a lopsided law. The purpose of the law is to promote peace and harmony, so if the law runs against this norm, its purpose has been defeated.
“We are not opposed to modern ways of doing things, but we are saying that the headers only know nomadic ways of life, and this will take time to change.
“What we should be looking for is the missing link on how the farmers and herders can coexist peacefully, today like what the Delta State is proposing, that is a step in the right direction because the state is mapping out areas where anybody interested can go and acquire and do his business there, so we commend the state for this approach.
“At least a level ground has been provided for any of our members who want to settle here to do that, and peacefully do their business without crisis with farmers. What Delta is doing is what we are calling on those states that have introduced a ban on open grazing law to do.”