Anti-open grazing bill will lead Nigeria to war – Ben Ayade

Ben Ayade

Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, has given reasons for not signing the Anti-Open Grazing Bill, as agreed at a meeting of the Southern Governors Forum earlier in the year.

According to Ayade, the bill is insensitive and a deliberate invitation to war in the country.

The governor disclosed this while speaking to journalists at his office on Friday in Calabar, the state capital, expressing that herders are his brothers from the North and their source of livelihood should not be taken from them.

Ayade said, “How would you as a nation legislate to illegitimacy, a legitimate trade of a people, the nomadic herdsmen? You cannot by law make illegitimate a legitimate trade of a people?” Ayade questioned.

“You have a responsibility as an educated person. We sit in the office and that’s why even though certain governors have made it clear that governors must pass the anti-open grazing law, I have not, because I’ve found a solution to it.

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“My herdsmen brothers of north or south extraction, to shut down their trades, stay confined in a place whether they have a pasture or not, it doesn’t matter to me.

“So, if I have a brother from Yobe State in a semi-arid condition with no grass and having no money to do irrigation to sustain his pasture, will I make his business illegitimate, shut him down and close him from survival?

“That is insensitive. What I think is anarchy, a deliberate invitation to war. That is inviting the nation into war.

“I ask myself if indeed open grazing is coming with this consequence? The sociology and anthropology are unacceptable and we must find a way to create means and balance between the herders and the farmers. That’s the essence of being a leader.”

He further stated that his government would come up with an Open Grazing Management Law which is a solution to the current farmer-herdsmen situation.

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“So before I pass the law, I decided to pull back and find a solution. That is why in Cross River, we’re coming with an Open Grazing Management Law.

“I think morally, ethnically, it is unacceptable to prohibit a trade that existed before I was born. I’ll rather find a way to modulate it so that it will meet the definition of modern animal farming or husbandry. I think because it’s a profession, a business, it’s also a fundamental right of people to do the business,” he said.

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By Amos Kalu
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