FARMERS and Fulani herdsmen have clashed at the premises of the Oyo State House of Assembly as they disagree over the proposed anti-grazing bill being proposed by Governor Seyi Makinde.
Like several other states, Oyo is proposing to introduce an anti-grazing bill that will limit cattle herding to designated areas. Governor Makinde and the Oyo State House of Assembly are planning to introduce a new bill that will compel Fulani herdsmen to raise their livestock in dedicated ranches.
Yesterday, hundreds of farmers and herdsmen were engaged in a heated disagreement at the Oyo State House of Assembly, the venue of the public hearing on a bill for a law to prohibit open grazing in the state. Chief Azeez Maboreje, the farmers’ ambassador, lauded the lawmakers for taking the bull by the horn for considering the bill.
Chief Maboreje said: “Go ahead and prohibit open grazing to safeguard farming practice and investments of the people, in a way that those engaging in open grazing be made to face the wrath of the law. Amend a section of the bill to include provision for special courts and mobile courts to try erring herdsmen.”
However, the national chairman of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Sale Bayari delivered an 18-page position paper at the session, kicking against the bill and its sponsors. He said the sponsors of the bill did not prowl into detailed history of the Fulani herdsman and his cattle rearing culture, tradition and hereditary attachment to his means of livelihood and not business as people were made to understand.
In addition, Chief Maboreje also counselled the lawmakers to make provision for the Baale Agbe-In-Council at each local government, for them to contribute meaningfully to the agricultural development, and engage in harmonious relationship with the Fulani and others herders. However, Alhaji Bayari in his presentation, said the bill if passed into law, would punish poor herders, saying it is impossible in our country for any peasant small scale herdsman to go into ranching.
He queried why the bill failed to take into consideration the above set of people involved in the cattle business, unlike commercial merchandise livestock farmers like President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, West Africa Milk Company and Alhaji Tafida Mafindi, among others. Alhaji Bayari asked rhetorically how a herdsman that owns 50 cows or less, can afford to lease a plot of ranch to keep and graze, buy feeds for these animals, saying the maximum average total value of 50 cows at N150, 000 each is N7.5m.
“From our calculations, one cow will eat grass, drink water, drugs and other maintenance costs to the tune of N1, 500 a day. Despite Benue state being a northern state, it has been a very bad brother and neighbour of the Fulani herdsmen. Ironically, it is Oyo state among Yoruba states that has remained our true home,” Alhaji Bayari added.
He said in the absence of peace, the Fulani people were the number one victim because their entire means of the livelihood, the animals, were perishable. Alhaji Bayari added that they shall continue to be law abiding citizens of this state and undertake to ensure that they fish out all the bad elements among them that are distorting the peace and tranquility of Oyo State.