The Oyo State Government is being advised to create more room for dialogue with Fulani groups and herdsmen in the state over the anti-open grazing bill recently passed by the state House of Assembly.
It would be recalled that following last month’s passage of the bill which stipulates five year jail term for anyone who rears or grazes cattle or any other livestock openly in any part of the state, the herdsmen association threatened legal action, saying the proposed law was discriminatory.
At a public hearing organised by the House of Assembly weeks before the bill was passed, farmers and some Fulani’s in the state disagreed over the proposed anti-grazing bill.
While the farmers’ ambassador, Azeez Maboreje, in his address, lauded the lawmakers for taking the bull by the horn for considering the bill; the national chairman of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria, Sale Bayari, in an 18-page position paper, said the bill if passed into law would punish poor herders.
“It is impossible in our country for any peasant small scale herdsman to go into ranching,” he stated.
But the lawmakers maintained that passage of the bill would foster peace and promote agricultural business in the state, maintaining that it would end the loss of lives and destruction of investments due to constant clashes between herders and farmers.
According to the Speaker of the House, Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, no stakeholder was left out of the process.
“We assured the people that all suggestions and memoranda of understanding submitted by various groups, agencies and representatives of different communities and tribes on the bill were looked into before it was passed”, he said.
The Mogaji Abose compound in Olubadan traditional lineage, Chief Adegboyega Adegoke, in his opinion, however says there is still room for more dialogue and deeper consultations for the law to succeed in the interest of everyone in Oyo State
He advised that while the bill is still awaiting Governor Seyi Makinde’s assent, the governor, lawmakers and the Fulani groups should create more fora for discussions, stressing that traditional rulers, community leaders, religious leaders and the other stakeholders must be involved.
If Makinde signs the bill into law, Oyo will join other states like Benue and Ekiti that have enacted similar laws.
“The government and herdsmen can take a cue from the Benue state example where government and herdsmen recently sat at a roundtable with the herdsmen apologizing to the government for opposing the state’s anti-open grazing law while the government also agreed to accommodate them as one family,”Adegoke advised.
Adegoke, who is the Executive Director Finance and Chief Financial Officer of OES Energy Services, however expressed belief that if well handled, the law will make the state attractive to investors and promote the growth of agriculture.
He added: “I believe that the bill passed by our lawmakers is not targeted at anybody or tribe but to find lasting solutions to the disagreement that always occur between the herdsmen and their host communities. In this wise, there is still need for a dialogue to arrive at mutual understanding by the warring parties.”
About the bill
The bill, titled, “The Oyo State Open Rearing and Grazing Regulation law, 2019”, was sponsored by the Speaker of the House, Adebo Ogundoyin; his Deputy, Abiodun Fadeyi; Majority Leader, Sanjo Adedoyin and Minority Leader, Asimiyu Alarape.
The bill recommends five years imprisonment or a fine of N500,000 or both for anyone who engages in open rearing or grazing of livestock. It prohibits the movement of livestock on foot from one destination to another in the state.
It mandates herders or cattle rearers to submit themselves for registration and get an identification card, which must be worn at all times. Anyone caught without identification card is liable on conviction to imprisonment for one year or a fine of N100,000 or both.
It states that cattle movement is only permissible by rail wagon, truck or pick-up wagon, between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., while any person found moving livestock on foot is liable on conviction to imprisonment for five years or a fine of N500,000 or both.
The proposed law also prohibits a minor from grazing, herding or grazing of livestock except under the supervision of an adult, while the minor or owner of cattle is liable on conviction to a fine of N300,000 or three years imprisonment or both.
It also recommends that cattle owners are restricted to grazing livestock in approved ranches, while persons wishing to set up ranches are to obtain a permit from the state government for a period of three years, with renewal subject to the approval of the landowner.
The proposed law also empowers the state governor to revoke the permit, without compensation, to the herdsman for any breach of security.