108 Ranches To End Farmer-Herder Clashes

Farmer Herder Clashes

The Senate, on Wednesday, passed a Bill to establish the National Animal Husbandry and Ranches Commission for a second reading after a heated debate at plenary.

The Bill, titled; ‘A Bill for an Act for the Regulation of Animal Husbandry and Ranches Establishment in Nigeria as a Panacea for Farmers-Herders Crises’, was sponsored by Senator Titus Tartenger Zam representing Benue North-West.

The piece of legislation, if passed into law, is to control and regulate cattle rearing and ranching business across the country, including establishing a ranch in 108 senatorial districts in the 36 States of the Federation.

He also opined that the Commission, if established, will serve as an antidote for the perennial violent clashes between sedentary farmers and nomadic herders in Nigeria.

Debating on the general principles of the Bill, Senator Zam noted that the absence of a regulatory framework or legislation on pastoralism and livestock mobility generally has created a chaotic scenario of Survival of the Fittest, between sedentary farmers and nomadic herders in Nigeria, saying the situation was unacceptable in the 21st century civilized world.

“As stakeholders in the Nigeria project and elected representatives of the people, we cannot afford to look on while the country burns into ashes as a result of violent clashes between sedentary farmers and nomadic herders.

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Doing so would amount to abdication of our statutory and leadership responsibilities. The menace of farmers and herders crises can easily be cured through a legislative therapy banning open grazing in Nigeria,” the lawmaker argued.

The bill, however, met stiff opposition from Senators from the North as Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe Central) and his counterpart from Kebbi State, Senator Adamu Aliero, kicked against restricting pastoralists to grazing in only 108 specific locations instead of the whole country’s expanse of land.

They argued that cattle rearing and ranching activities were more in the North than in other parts of the country, reasoning that lawmaking should be for the entire country and not for a section.

Goje specifically maintained that cattle routes begin from the far north and end in Lokoja as “the route does not extend to the South”.

In his contribution, Senator Hussein Babangida Uba, representing Jigawa North-West, called for extra caution in passing the Bill given its trail of controversies in the past.

However, other Senators, who supported the Bill contended that the proposed Commission would manage the farmers/herders crisis, hence, it should be passed into law.

The Bill was eventually passed after it was put to voice votes by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio.

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It was thereafter referred to the Joint Senate Committee on Agriculture, and Judiciary and Legal Matters for further legislative input. The committee was asked to revert back to the Senate at plenary in four weeks.

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