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Heated debate as Bill to establish cattle ranching gets counter reactions by Nigerian senators

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Heated debate as Bill to establish cattle ranching gets counter reactions by Nigerian senators

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A bill for an Act to stop the migration of cattle herders from pastoralist nomadic cattle rearing and adopt ranching generated heated debates at Senate plenary Wednesday before it could pass a second reading.

It was titled “A Bill for an Act to Establish National Animal Husbandry and Ranches Commission for the Regulation, Management, Preservation, and Control of Ranches throughout Nigeria” and sponsored by Senator Titus Zam (Benue North West).

Leading the debate on the “Bill for an Act for the Regulation of Animal Husbandry and Ranches establishment in Nigeria as a panacea for farmers-herders crises”, Senator Zam said historically, herders-farmers conflicts date back to pre-colonial times.

However, he said these violent conflicts have become “more severe, intense and frequent in recent decades due to a number of factors which include but are not limited to the following; population pressure, climate change, livestock mobility, and marketability, absence of laws on pastoralism, inefficient conflict management mechanism, the proliferation of arms and urbanization, etc”.

He said reports have it that, since 2016 more than 4000 lives have been lost as a result of farmers ‘ conflicts and over 5 million people have been displaced particularly in the Middle Belt Region and other parts of Northern Nigeria.

“Whereas other countries with huge farmers and herders populations including Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have passed pastoral laws and codes which have helped to mitigate the incidence of clashes between sedentary farmers and nomadic herders, this situation is unfortunately treated with kid-gloves in Nigeria.

Senator Zam said available data indicate that India as of 2023 had about 308 million herds of cattle and it is the world’s number one country in animal husbandry, followed by Brazil, China, and USA.

“In Africa, Ethiopia has the highest number with 68 million cows as of 2022. Nigeria has a paltry 20.9 million herds as of 2022, yet we are faced with the greatest problem of herders-farmers conflagrations.

“Paradoxically, the Nigerian State has continued to pay lip service to the challenge of farmers’ and herders’ altercation without addressing it in concrete terms in line with international best practices of animal husbandry. Every effort (was) is laced with maneuvers that speak to our ethnic and political biases or sentiments, thus resisted by the people.

According to him, the 10th Senate has a date with history, adding “We must rise in one accord to sort out this problem of herders-farmers violent conflicts that would, if allowed to linger longer consume even more lives and properties than the civil war of 1967-1970.

“Therefore, now is the time to put a permanent stop to the endless circle of attacks and counterattacks by our people and their external collaborators”, he said.

In line with Senate standing rules, he attached a compendium of financial implications for the establishment of ranches with full facilities in the 36 states of Nigeria.
No of ranches per senatorial district 1 x 3 = 3

With the total ranches per state at 3 the total number of ranches will be 108 at the cost per ranch N1bn with a grand total of N324 bn.

Contributing to the Bill Senator Sumaila Kawu (Kano South) who was vehemently opposed to the bill said he believed that it infringes on the constitution and vowed “We will fight it to the end”.

Senator Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central) said the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) section 41 guarantees the freedom of every citizen of Nigeria to move and reside in any part of the country.

However, Senator Akpabio responded by saying that “cows are not citizens”.

Senator Babangida Hussaini (Jigawa North West) who spoke in support of the motion said “There is freedom of movement, but the criminality around herders’ activities must be dealt with”.

The Senate Minority Leader, Abba Moro advised his colleagues to be “circumspect” as the process of lawmaking continued adding “We will have a public hearing, third hearing, and the president’s assent”.

Senator Muntari Dandutse (Katsina South) said it is not only Fulani that kills people, adding that “most crimes take place at Gold mining sites”.

Adams Oshiomhole (Edo North) said everything that needs to be done should be done as people mine Gold illegally, put the money in their pockets and use the money and use the money to undermine Nigerian authority.

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