FULANI socio-cultural association Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore has called on Nigeria’s National Assembly to intervene and stop attempts by some states governors to enact anti-open grazing laws targeted at nomadic pastoralists.
Earlier this year, the Southern Governors Forum issued a declaration after a meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital, saying open grazing would be banned across all their 17 states. Since then, their state houses of assemblies have moved to pass laws banning open grazing and several states in Nigeria’s Middle Belt have also followed suit.
Last week, three Fulani herdsmen were arrested for breaching the new law in Ondo State and about 30 of their cattle were confiscated. Aware of the fact that open grazing is now fast becoming history, Saleh Alhassan, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore national secretary, said that the law would undermine the relative peace and stability currently enjoyed in local communities and could threaten social order and exacerbate cattle rustling.
In addition, Mr Alhassan said that the anti-open grazing laws would destroy livestock production and send millions of people that depend on the livestock value chain into poverty. He thus appealed to the National Assembly to come to the rescue of the pastoralists by resuscitating and passing the Grazing Reserves Commission Bill and other livestock management bills that were initiated by the previous assembly.
Furthermore, Mr Alhassan called on the federal government to create a Federal Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries as obtainable in many African countries. He stressed the need for the government to take an inventory of all the existing grazing reserves, traditional grazing areas, trans-human corridors, major stock routes and fully develop at least one grazing reserve in each senatorial district.
Mr Alhassan said: “This is in line with the recommendation of the Inter-ministerial Committee on Livestock Development in Nigeria 2015, the report of the President Committee on Pastoralists and Insecurity 2014 and the National Livestock Transformation Programme. Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore totally condemns the continuous extortion and profiling of the Fulani pastoralists by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue and we call on him to offer apology to the Fulani race.
“We commend the courageous efforts of the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari for listening to our consistent call to restore the existing grazing reserves, routes and create new ones because it is the only sustainable solution to the farmers and herders conflicts in the country.”
He added that a review of the Land Use Act was long overdue to accommodate the interest of all land resources users, including pastoralists. Mr Alhassan said that ranching as envisaged by many required capital investment and was difficult to sustain, not economical and it is not small livestock holder-centred.
In addition, Mr Alhassan called for the proper funding of the National Commission for Nomadic Education and expansion of its mandate.