…pledge legislative support for state police
The Southern Senators Forum (SSF), has endorsed the outright ban on open grazing of cattle across the 17 states of Southern Nigeria and commended the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) for taking the decision at a time Nigeria is grappling with widespread insecurity.
T he federal lawmakers said that such deft and unanimous policy would help in reining in those hiding under cattle grazing to perpetrate kidnapping, killing, raping and other forms of terror on the residents of the region. They argued that open grazing must be jettisoned because it is archaic and falls short of global best practice and a potential danger to security of lives and property. The SGF, had at its meeting held in Asaba, Delta State capital, on Tuesday, unanimously passed a resolution prohibiting open grazing in the region.
The decision came on the heels of frequent clashes between cattle herders and farming communities, kidnappings as well as senseless killings of Nigerian citizens of southern extraction by the armed herders. In a statement jointly signed by the SSF Chairman, Secretary General and Publicity Secretary, Senators Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti), Mathew Uroghide (Edo) and Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu), respectively and made available to journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, the lawmakers said the measure would curb the wanton destruction of farmlands, kidnappings and carnage.
The Senators lamented how the Southern farmers were losing farm produce worth millions of naira to the herders who encroach on farmlands and graze on crops, thereby exposing the region to famine and acute food scarcity . “At this critical point of our national life when the economy is bedevilled by galloping inflation, youth unemployment and insecurity, food security is very crucial to mitigate the effects of these diverse evils on the citizens. “Available records have shown that attaining food security status would remain a mirage in the South owing to the ravaging effect of out-dated livestock grazing policy being unleashed on farmlands by some unscrupulous herders. “Most appalling were the seemingly unabated kidnapping , raping and killing of our people by suspected herdsmen, who have become bandits heating up the system.
“With this uniform resolve by our governors to initiate no-open grazing policy, the region will return to its peaceful and agriculturally self -sufficient status it had assumed even long before Nigeria’s amalgamation in 1914,” they said. The lawmakers also saluted the governors for bringing to the fore the need for speedy restructuring of the “highly lopsided” federation, saying this will also help to remove the venom that had permeated the land on account of alleged neglect of certain sections of the country.
The SSF leaders argued that once the principles of equality, equity and justice have been enthroned, the current atmosphere of ethnic tension will be wiped out. According to them, it will also restore peace and stability and halt the agitations for secession that are now gaining traction across the land.
The SSF urged the governors to swiftly follow up on their resolutions by immediately approaching the leadership of the National Assembly with a view to working with the two arms of the parliament to ensure that their well-articulated positions on the state of the nation, especially in relation to restructuring, state policing are thoroughly and decisively addressed through the on-going constitutional review exercise.