Cat­tle routes ex­ist only in minds of their pro­mot­ers – Or­tom’s me­dia aide

Mr Ta­hav Agerzua is the Spe­cial Ad­viser to the Benue State Gov­er­nor on Me­dia and ICT. In this in­ter­view with our cor­re­spon­dent in Makurdi, Agerzua spoke on the re­cent ar­gu­ments gen­er­ated in the pub­lic sphere over the anti-open graz­ing law in Benue State,

Sunday Trust - - INTERVIEW - From Makurdi Hope

There has been a se­ries of ar­gu­ments in the pub­lic sphere since the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the anti-open graz­ing law in Benue State. How would you re­spond to one of such ar­gu­ments raised by the Myetti Al­lah Cat­tle Breed­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (MACBAN), that the law is in con­flict with in­ter­na­tional cat­tle routes?

It would have been nice for the MACBAN to de­fine what they mean by in­ter­na­tional cat­tle routes so that we may know whether we have tam­pered with them. As things stand, we do not know them, let alone think about con­flict­ing with them.

How would you also re­act to the ar­gu­ment that the Benue graz­ing law con­tra­venes the Nige­rian con­sti­tu­tion, and that the ban now ex­tin­guishes both na­tional and in­ter­na­tional cat­tle routes pass­ing through the state?

Those pre­oc­cu­pied with what they call in­ter­na­tional cat­tle routes ought to tell Nige­ri­ans where they are, oth­er­wise they seem to ex­ist only in the imag­i­na­tion of those who talk about them, and prob­a­bly those who use them. We are yet to come across sec­tions of the Nige­rian con­sti­tu­tion which have de­lin­eated such routes.

What we know is that the con­sti­tu­tion of the Fed­eral Repub­lic of Nige­ria, 1999, as amended, gives state Houses of As­sem­bly the pow­ers to make laws for the good gov­er­nance of the state, and the anti-open graz­ing law was made in line with such pow­ers.

Does the Benue State Gov­ern­ment have enough land to ac­com­mo­date ranch­ing if all the herders in the state sub­mit to the law?

I think we need to know from herds­men whether they ap­plied for land to es­tab­lish ranches and they were not given. If they have not ap­plied, the ques­tion is ir­rel­e­vant as cat­tle do not graze in the air.

What strat­egy is the gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ing to avoid fur­ther con­flicts be­tween herders who are leav­ing and farm­ers within the coastal or bound­ary ar­eas of the state?

The se­cu­rity agen­cies and com­mu­nity vol­un­teer guards have been mo­bilised to han­dle se­cu­rity breaches and chal­lenges.

Some lead­ers of the MACBAN have posited that leas­ing of land is not the same thing as ranch­ing, which the law seeks to im­ple­ment. How do you view this ar­gu­ment?

It would have been nice for the MACBAN to de­fine what they mean by in­ter­na­tional cat­tle routes so that we may know whether we have tam­pered with them. As things stand, we do not know them, let alone think about con­flict­ing with them

The law pro­vides that cat­tle own­ers se­cure land through lease and es­tab­lish ranches.

What is your take on the be­lief in some quar­ters that the law was tar­geted at a par­tic­u­lar tribe (Fu­lani herders), per­haps, to drive them away from the state?

The in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice in an­i­mal hus­bandry is ranch­ing. This has be­come im­per­a­tive in mod­ern times as a re­sult of pres­sure on land, aris­ing from pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion and in­creased agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties. For Benue, the law was pro­mul­gated to tackle in­ces­sant clashes be­tween farm­ers, which have claimed thou­sands of lives and prop­erty worth tril­lions of naira. For ex­am­ple, a re­port com­piled by the Benue State Bu­reau for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Chief­taincy Af­fairs indi­cates that 10 lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas of the state lost hun­dreds of lives and over N95 bil­lion in 2014 at­tacks alone. The at­tacks de­stroyed schools, hos­pi­tals and clin­ics, churches and all sig­nif­i­cant houses and land­marks in the af­fected ar­eas. It is to fore­stall such that the law was en­acted on ac­count of the clam­our from the peo­ple of the state.

Abah, Mr Ta­hav Agerzua

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.