…Submits memoranda to NASS
By Sam Eyoboka
FOLLOWING recent escalating spate of violent activities of Fulani herdsmen across the country, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to House of Representatives Committee on Agricultural Production and Services on the incessant clashes between Fulani herdsmen and pastoralists, farmers and farming communities across the country voicing its opposition for the National Grazing Reserve Bill which is said to have passed its second reading in the National Assembly.
The memorandum which was articulated by a professor in the Department of English at the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt, Prof. Funmilayo Adesanya-Davies said the apex body of Christians in Nigeria gives thumbs down to the bill because it believes the National Grazing Bill is a subtle way for the Federal Government to Islamise the nation.
“In order to alleviate and prove our fears wrong, such a bill should never be passed into motion because it is not a legislative issue,” it stated, adding “we are of the opinion that there should be constant dialogue with all the stake holders to formulate a holistic plan that will promote peace, harmony and advancement of our Livestock industry, so that we don’t divide Nigeria into Southeria and Northeria either overtly or covertly.”
The memoranda outlined a seven-point recommendation including: “No grazing rights, routes or reserves (3Rs) because it is private business and tax payers’ money should not be used as in other normal private businesses in the country.
“Loans should be sourced for through banks, Federal/State ministries, like other businesses in Nigeria to facilitate their education as an association to improve themselves so that they can fit in with 21st century Nomad practices in line with the millennium development goals. It is a well known fact that the Federal Government has released billions of naira for Grazing Reserves in Northern Nigeria which we presume should be enough.
“Lands should be sourced at state level or through Northern Governors’ forum where the cows will be in their natural habitat in northern Nigeria. This should not be done by coercion, manipulation, intimidation, enforcement of law or the passing of any bill into motion but with persuasion and encouragement. State governors should be adequately educated on what they stand to benefit.
“Ranches/Reserves should be restricted to state of origin of Nomads or anyone into animal husbandry and the remaining untapped, uncultivated vast land space on the entire planet which happens to be in Northern Nigeria.
“Chief Obafemi Awolowo said: ‘Tap and pipe water from the Atlantic Ocean to irrigate the whole of Northern Nigeria like other deserts of the world and you will feed the entire world from here’. There should be no driving of herds all over the nation as the excuse to mass murder Nigerians in the South.
“All Nigerian borders should be tightened, because most of these so called Fulani herdsmen who are actually Boko Haram and illegal immigrants from neighbouring Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Benin Republic etc. They are definitely not our Nigerian brothers,” the memoranda stated.
Drawing inspiration from a submission of the Nigerian Graduate Christian Fellowship Submission; an Affiliate of CAN, the memorandum said: “Grazing reserve/grazing route is unsustainable, conflicts with Land use act of our constitution that vested the power on land allocation to State Governors and not the Federal Government. It is also prone to conflicts with host communities and Farmers.
“The best solution is private ownership of modern day cattle ranches with access to veterinary services, Schools, Irrigation/water supply and other social amenities
“It is wrong for Federal Government to seize a community land and give it to Private businessmen who are cattle breeders as it favours one group at the expense of others.
“The land mass in Northern Nigeria far outstrips what obtained in the South.
The entire South eastern states have a land mass of 28,982 km2 which is smaller than Kogi State (29,582 km2)! The entire southern states in the west, east and south south is less than a third of the land mass in the North. It is therefore wrong for Government to allocate land from the South to breeders from the North.
“Sambisia forest which is approximately 60,000 Km2 and has more than 6million hectares of land can be used as a national ranch where all breeders from different parts of the country can breed their cattle. This will help to develop the area and derive Boko Haram their haven.
“That the Fulani Herdsmen causing havoc, raping women, and armed with sophisticated weapons is a grave security threat to the country and should be treated as terrorists.” Vanguard