Grazing Bill, Plot To Impoverish Southern Nigeria – Rep | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Grazing Bill, Plot To Impoverish Southern Nigeria – Rep

Posted: Apr 24, 2016 at 7:47 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Ahmed Musa
Hon. Uzoma Nkem Abonta, a federal lawmaker in the House of Representatives, has criticised the proposed executive bill seeking to create grazing routes for cattle rearers in the country, describing it as an attempt at impoverishing those living in the southern parts of the country.
Hon. Abonta also stated that the Federal Government has no right to seize individual’s ancestral lands for the purpose of enhancing cattle rearing which is by all estimate is a private enterprise of Fulani herdsmen.
He spoke in an interview with newsmen at his Guzape District home in Abuja on Sunday, saying that the move to have the bill passed at all cost is a clear misplacement of priority when there are other important legislations such as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the need to curb desertification up North.
He expressed dismay that the Federal Government is pushing so hard for the passage a bill which seeks to wreak more havoc on farmers than the Land Use Act for which amendments were being sought in the constitution review exercises.
“Cattle rearing is done by private persons, so why would government be seizing or acquiring land for such venture. We are crying that the Land Use Act is not good anymore and you’re now trying to do more than the Land Use Act by saying that the government would acquire land forcefully from the farmers and then give them to the Fulani herdsmen so that they would be able to do their grazing?” he queried.
Hon. Abonta said the move has shown that the President is interested in having the bill passed, and must come out to state his interest on what he called “a clear move to make some Nigerians second class citizens and inferior to those who probably are not even Nigerians.
“I want to say here now that Government has no business in business. That bill has generated a lot of controversy and may not augur well if the bill is allowed.
“This bill should not be allowed to pass at all because it is going to deny local farmers access to and control of their ancestral lands. A situation where a Council is being proposed in the bill with the powers to seize lands deemed suitable for grazing without the owners having a say is draconian.
“In that bill, the Council will decide what to pay you as compensation that is not negotiable, and you cannot sue without seeking the express approval of the Federal Attorney General who is at liberty to grant to permission to sue or deny same,” he said.
While admitting that creating definite routes for grazing may sound good, it is a recipe for compounded farmers-herdsmen clashes in the country.
“As good as it may sound, that would also increase the problem between the Fulanis and the owners of the route in which they would pass. Sincerely speaking, I think that we should do our business in a way that would not hinder or disturb other people,” he contended.
He said instead of forceful acquisition of land for herdsmen as the government is proposing, ranches can be created by interested state governments or private individuals who can charge fees for the use of their ranches.
“I think that what should be obtainable is have ranches where people would as a must put their cows and train their cows. Is it the best practice now to wander with cows?
“I think that those bills should be discouraged and not allowed to see the light of day. More so, some people particularly in the South East and the South South are feeling threatened that the bill is a way off forcefully seizing their land and handing them over to the Fulanis,” he said.