Senate Bill to Ban Open Grazing Passes Second Reading, Northern Senators Kick


Senate Bill to Ban Open Grazing progresses amidst opposition from northern senators, highlighting deep divisions on managing pastoralist-farmer conflicts in Nigeria.

As the Senate deliberates on the controversial bill to ban open grazing and establish regulated ranches in Nigeria, tensions are palpable. The proposed legislation, officially titled “A Bill to Establish a National Animal Husbandry and Ranches Commission for the Regulation, Management, Preservation, and Control of Ranches Throughout Nigeria; and for Connected Purposes, 2024,” has cleared its second reading amidst heated debate.

Sponsored by Senator Titus Zam (APC, Benue North-West), the bill seeks to address the violent conflicts between pastoralists and farmers that have plagued Nigeria. Zam emphasizes the urgency of the situation, stating, “The Senate cannot afford to look on while the country burns into ashes as a result of violent clashes between sedentary farmers and nomadic herders.”

The proposed bill aims to replace the traditional, hazardous methods of livestock keeping with modern, safer practices. Zam notes that ranching offers a viable alternative for cattle breeding in Nigeria, advocating for a transition to international best practices. However, the bill faces significant opposition from northern senators who argue that it infringes on constitutional rights and could exacerbate existing conflicts.

Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South) supports the bill but calls for amendments to simplify land management. He acknowledges the complexity of the issue, noting that some herders engage in legitimate business while others are criminal elements destabilizing communities. “Farmers are under threat, and what that has led to is the food crisis that we face in Nigeria today,” he adds.

Senator Mohammed Goje (APC, Gombe Central) and Senator Suleiman Abdulrahman-Kawu (NNPP, Kano South) argue that the bill discriminates against herders by restricting them to specific geographic locations. Abdulrahman-Kawu insists, “The bill is totally against the constitution of Nigeria. You can’t propose a law to attend to a particular group or section of the country only.”

Senate President Godswill Akpabio, while urging calm, proposes a public hearing to gather input from all stakeholders, including cattle rearers and state governments. He assures that any constitutional conflicts will be addressed during this process.

The bill’s progress highlights the deep divisions within the Senate, with opposing factions debating its implications on national unity and constitutional rights. As it moves to committee review, the future of Nigeria’s approach to managing pastoralist-farmer conflicts hangs in the balance.

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