Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, said on Wednesday that anti-open grazing laws in some states would be reviewed for compatibility with the Nigerian Constitution.
The former vice president said at a town hall Wednesday night that the Nigerian Constitution guarantees free movement of citizens, and suggested that herders should not be an exception.
Mr Abubakar said if the governments through extension services could educate herders, the income the latter would generate from beef and milk would be higher.
Mr Abubakar’s proposal could conflict with the position of Benue, Taraba and Ekiti states, where strict anti-open grazing routes have been in enforcement since 2016.
The states have said they would not back down on the law, despite repeated warnings by President Muhammadu Buhari that the law was antagonistic towards the predominantly Fulani herders.
Mr Abubakar, a Fulani, is also widely believed to own large investment in livestock.
The governors in Taraba and Benue States are of the same Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as Mr Abubakar, but it is unclear how they would react to Mr Abubakar’s position, which they had countered when Mr Buhari suggested it.
Ekiti State’s anti-open grazing law was implemented by Ayodele Fayose of the PDP while governor, but the state is now being run by Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress who was elected governor last July.
Still, Mr Abubakar said, if elected, he would implement policies geared towards establishing reserves for nomadic herdsmen.
Even though he acknowledged that open grazing is a way of life for the Fulani herders, the nomadic education would help reduce the culture while increasing interest in grazing reserves for modern rearing of livestock, he said.