Herders/farmers’ conflicts: Bill on ranching divides Senate

Heated debate on a bill seeking to outlaw open grazing in Nigeria and replace it with ranches in states of origin of pastoralists divided the Senate Wednesday but scaled second reading.

Division among senators on the bill centered around infractions on relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution, protocols of the Economic Community of West African States ( ECOWAS ) as regards free movements of persons and their property from state to state and country to country.

The sponsor of the bill, Senator Zam Titus Tertenger (APC Benue North west ) had in his lead debate, submitted that the bill among others, proposes ranching as the only viable alternative for cattle breeding in Nigeria.

He advocated for the urgent need to transit from traditional livestock keeping method to the modern methods which are safer and healthier to both the herds and the herders.

He added that the ranches be established in the pastoralists state of origin without forcing it upon other states or communities that do not have pastoralists as citizens.

He said interested parties in livestock business must seek and obtain approvals of their host communities to establish ranches for the purpose of peaceful co-existence.

He added that: “Reports have it that since 2016, more than 4,000 lives have been lost as a result of farmers herders conflicts.

“Also, over 5 million people have been displaced, particularly in the Middle Belt region and other parts of Northern Nigeria. With dwindling productivity in crops production and herds has reportedly cost the country an average of $3.5 million dollars or 47% of its internally generated revenue.

“Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, this 10th Senate has a date with history. 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.”