Fulani Herdsmen Drags Oyo Assembly Over Anti Grazing Bill



Various associations of Fulani herdsmen on Wednesday stormed the Oyo State House of Assembly, venue of the public hearing on bill for a law to prohibit open grazing in the state, to voice out their stand on the bill.

One of the leader of associations, Alhaji Sale Bayari, the National Chairman of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria (GAFDAN) in an 18-page position paper he delivered at the session, kicked against the bill and its sponsors, saying the bill is not practisable and a ploy to punish poor herdsmen in the state.

According to him, “it is impossible in our country for any peasant small scale herdsman or rancher to go into ranching”.

Bayari pointed out that the sponsors of the bill did not look into the detailed history of the Fulani herdsman and his cattle rearing culture, tradition and hereditary attachment to his means of livelihood and not ‘business’ as people were made to understand.

He questioned the rationle behind the failure of the bill to take into consideration the above set of people involved in the cattle business, unlike commercial merchandise livestock farmers like President Muhammadu Buhari; Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako (retd); Senator Abdullahi Adamu; West Africa Milk Company; and Alhaji Tafida Mafindi, among others.

Bayari asked rhetorically how a herdsman that owns 50 cows or less, can afford to lease a plot of ranch to keep and graze, buy feeds for these animals, saying “the maximum average total value of of 50 cows at N150, 000 each is N7.5 million only.

“From our calculations, one cow will eat grass, drink water, drugs and other maintenance costs to the tune of N1, 500 a day.”

He said in the absence of peace, he knows the Fulani people are the number one victim because their entire means of the livelihood which is the animals, are perishable.

According to him, “despite Benue state being a northern state, it has been a very bad brother and neighbor of the Fulani herdsmen. Ironically, it is Oyo state among Yoruba state that have been and remained our truly home as Nigerians due to the wonderful warm and receptive nature of the great descendants of Oduduwa that the Fulani herdsmen have come to see and accept as their beloved great grandfather too due to accommodating spirit, nature and character of the people of the Southwest.

“We shall continue to be law abiding citizens of this state and here undertake to ensure that we fish out all the bad elements among us that are distorting the peace and tranquility of Oyo State.

The Farmers’ Ambassador, Chief Azeez Maboreje disagreed with Bayari as he lauded the lawmakers for taking the bull by the horn for considering the bill.

Maboreje advised the assembly “to go ahead and prohibit open grazing to safeguard farming practice and investments of the people, in a way that those engaging in open grazing be made to face the wrath of the law.”

He urged the house ” to amend a section of the bill to include provision for special courts and mobile courts to try erring herdsmen.”

Maboreje also counselled the lawmakers to make provision for the Baale Agbe-In-Council at each local government, for them to contribute meaningfully to the agricultural development, and engage in harmonious relationship with the Fulanis and others herders.

In his opening remark, the chairman, committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Peter Ojedokun pointed out that the purpose of the meeting was to receive input from the stakeholders on a Bill for a Law to Prohibit Open Rearing and Grazing of Livestock and Provide for the Regulation of activities of Herdsmen and for connected purpose.”

According to him, the Bill is aimed at addressing the crises between Farmers and the Herdsmen and other insecurity matters especially in rural areas in providing enabling environment for both the Farmers and the Herdsmen to carry out their business.

Ojedokun noted that it is undisputable fact that for the state of the nation to be financially buoyant, her production capacity must be strongly in place, ‘in our dear state one of the strong section to be reckoned with when talking of production capacity is agriculture, it is not out of place to call on stakeholders to contribution on ways to sustain agricultural productivity in the state.

“This Bill is a private Members Bill, sponsored by the Rt Honorable Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, Majority Leader and Minority Leader of the House, The Bill was introduced on the floor of the House on Thursday, 25th July, 2019 and passed through the 2nd reading, in view of the Bill, it was unanimously resolved that the House should hold a Public Hearing to receive inputs from the Stakeholders, Ojedokun said.

Earlier, the speaker of the State Assembly, Mr. Adebo Ogundoyin noted that there was a need for peaceful coexistence between the farmers and herders, adding that agriculture, crop, and animal husbandry remained major economy in the state.

“There is a need for us to continue to live in peace and harmony, Fulani and the farmers has been living together for long time ago and nobody ousted his/her boundary or herders grazing their cattle in a way that will destroyed farm input.

Ogundoyin stressed that no government would open its eyes and allow its people been killed lawfully, noting that the present administration in the state is committed in ensuring security of life and property of its citizenry.

“Some part of the state particularly Oke-Ogun side are the mostly affected, only in atmosphere of peace that economic development can take place, so all arm must be on deck to address issue of insecurity in the state.

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