PAN Niger Delta Forum (Pandef) leader Chief Edwin Clark has told President Muhammadu Buhari that he has no constitutional authority to impose open grazing on state governments across Nigeria.
Last month, the Southern Governors Forum met in the Delta State capital Asaba where among other things, they agreed to ban grazing, called for the restructuring of the country and lent their support to the idea of state police forces. While the measures were broadly welcomed by civil society groups, several prominent northern politicians like senate president Senator Ahmad Lawan, Senator Ali Ndume and Senator Abdullahi Adamu have opposed the proposals.
Nigeria’s attorney-general Abubakar Malami upped the ante by saying the vote against open grazing was an attack on the livelihoods of northerners. He added that preventing them from roaming around the countryside with their livestock was similar to preventing Igbo retailers from selling their automobile spare parts across northern Nigeria.
Despite the opposition to open grazing, President Buhari in a recent interview said he would like to see the return of cattle grazing paths, allowing herdsmen trail designated routes across Nigeria. Reacting to the development, Chief Clark said the decision by the 17 southern governors on open grazing is unchallengeable and binding on any person, including President Buhari.
Chief Clark added: “The decision on open grazing and other decisions taken on national interest by the 17 Southern governors received the full support of the people of southern Nigeria, particularly the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo of the southeast, Pandef of the south-south and the Afenifere of the southwest. The President has no power or authority to impose open grazing on state governments.
“Therefore, any law banning open grazing by state governments isn’t only legal and binding but is unchallengeable and binding on any person or group of persons, including the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We’ll no longer tolerate hate and divisive statements targeted at deriding and insulting others, from these Fulanis who believe Nigeria is exclusively theirs and other Nigerians are their subjects and not their fellow citizens.”
Former aviation minister Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, also warned that the practice of open grazing could make Nigeria explode if not addressed. He described the practice of open grazing as the biggest threat to national security.