The Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), a civil society coalition led by Femi Falana, senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has advised those encouraging herders to reject modern animal husbandry to learn from countries that have adopted ranching.
On Tuesday, the southern governors had announced their resolve to ban open grazing and movement of cattle by foot in the region in order to tackle insecurity and address clashes between farmers and herders.
But different reactions have trailed the announcement.
Usman Yusuf, former executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), had faulted the decision of the southern governors, saying the governors must provide land for herders to graze their cattle and that “giving a blanket ban is irresponsible”.
However, Falana noted that the Northern Governors Forum, as well as the Nigeria Governors Forum had earlier resolved to ban open grazing, but the ex-NHIS boss did not condemn their decisions.
He said such “divide-and-rule tactics” are designed to further polarise the masses, adding that the decision of the governors to ban open grazing is in line with section 1 of the land use act.
Falana explained that herders are free to acquire land for cattle business, adding that any person who wishes to use land in any state is required to apply for a certificate of occupancy issued by the governor.
“At the virtual meeting of the Northern Governors Forum held on February 9, 2021, the members unanimously resolved to ban open grazing,” Falana said.
“In response to the call of the Northern Governors Forum for an urgent meeting, the Nigeria Governors Forum held a virtual meeting on the 11th February, 2021. At the meeting, the 36 state governors agreed by consensus to end nomadic cattle rearing in the country in order to end the incessant violent clashes between farmers and herders.
“At its own meeting held at Asaba, Delta State on May 11, 2021, the Southern Governors Forum reiterated the decision of the Nigeria Governors Forum to ban open grazing in the country.
“Curiously, Professor Usman Yusuf has condemned the decision of the Southern Governors Forum on the ban. Even though he did not condemn the decisions of the Northern Governors Forum and the Nigeria Governors Forum, Professor Usman has argued that the decision of the Southern Governors Forum could not be justified under the Land Use Act.
“Such divide-and-rule tactics are designed to further polarise the masses of our people. In any case, the decision of all the governors to ban open grazing is in line with section 1 of the Land Use Act which has vested the entire land in every state in the governors on behalf of the people. Accordingly, any person or corporate body that wishes to use land in any state is required to apply for a certificate of occupancy issued by the governor.
“As I had repeatedly maintained, the worsening insecurity in the country including the violent clashes between herders and farmers can only be seriously addressed if policy makers are prepared to abandon primitive ideas and embrace scientific solutions.
“Those who are encouraging herders to reject modern animal husbandry are advised to learn from Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya and Ethiopia that have effectively adopted ranching to end clashes between herders and farmers.”