HERDSMEN CRISIS: SENATORS MOBILISE SUPPORT FOR ANTI-OPEN GRAZING BILL

Sunday Aborisade, Abuja

SENATORS from the southern and middle belt areas of Nigeria have started mobilising their colleagues from the core north to support the anti-open grazing bill being sponsored by a Senator from the South-West geopolitical zone.

Investigation by our correspondent reveals that a principal officer of the upper chamber is coordinating support for the bill.

A Senator, who spoke with our correspondent on conditions of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, confirmed that the bill already had over 60 signatures of lawmakers that had agreed to be co-sponsors.

He said, “If there is a total ban on open grazing, foreigners will not enter Nigeria with cows and start moving freely to every part of the country, wreaking havoc in the process.”

The Senate had on Wednesday last week passed a resolution, urging the state governments to implement the National Livestock Transformation Plan.

I’ve assured sponsor of my support – Moro

Meanwhile, the lawmaker representing Benue South, who is a former minister of Interior, Abba Moro, confirmed to our correspondent in an interview that one of his colleagues, the sponsor of the anti-open grazing bill, had sought his support.

Moro said, “I can tell you on good authority that one of my colleagues is sponsoring a bill on anti-grazing. I have assured him that I will support him and I will lend my voice to his bill.”

Similarly, the Senator representing Osun East, Francis Fadahunsi, confirmed in an interview with our correspondent on Friday that the bill was already in the Senate.

He said, “The anti-grazing bill is already in the Senate and I am fully in support of it. The foreign herdsmen are in Nigeria to cause mayhem; so, the only alternative is to stop their free movement through the proposed law.”

The Senator representing Cross River South, Gershon Bassey, also confirmed that the bill would soon be introduced to the Senate.

He said, “The bill is already in the Senate but we have a process. Just because a bill comes in doesn’t mean it will be passed the same way it is presented. Three has to be a widespread consultation before we can reach something that is agreeable to everybody.

“We need peace and we need to find a peaceful solution to move the country forward. A lot of people have suggested ranching but we need to find a way forward that is acceptable.”

Lending his support to the bill, the Senator representing Ogun West, Tolu Odebiyi, said ban on open grazing  would prevent incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen.

Senate spokesperson’s reaction

When contacted, the spokesperson for the Senate, Dr. Ajibola Basiru, said, “I am not aware of any anti-grazing bill in the Senate. The Rules and Business Committee will have to list it on the order paper before it will be known to the Senate.

“It is only when it comes to the floor that I will know. As of today (Friday), I have not seen any anti-grazing bill in the Senate.”