Hundreds of farmers and the Fulani in Oyo State, on Wednesday disagreed over the proposed anti-grazing bill in the state.
The two camps came in their large number at the Oyo State House of Assembly, venue of the public hearing on a bill for a law to prohibit open grazing in the state.
The Farmers’ Ambassador, Chief Azeez Maboreje in his address, lauded the lawmakers for taking the bull by the horn for considering the bill.
But, the National Chairman of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Sale Bayari in an 18-page position paper he delivered at the session, kicked against the bill and its sponsors.
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 Fulani and others herders.
But Bayari in his presentation, said the bill if passed into law would punish poor herders, saying, “it is impossible in our country for any peasant small scale herdsman to go into ranching.”
Bayari said the sponsors of the bill did not prowl into 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 queried why the bill failed 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, the Fulani people were the number one victim because their entire means of the livelihood, the animals, were perishable.
Bayari further said, “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 states that has remained our true home.
“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.”
Chairman, House 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.
This Bill is a private Members Bill, sponsored by the Rt Honorable Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, Majority Leader and Minority Leader of the House.