Benin City — Academics and other stakeholders have called for enactment of anti-open grazing laws in all the 36 states as a proactive measure. They equally urged massive campaign to encourage private ranches and development of a workable formal education for nomads.
The appeals were made at a stakeholders' conference organised by a non-political organisation, Gate-Keepers, with the theme, The Herdsmen Menace in Edo State, in Benin City. They lamented that the frequent farmers-herders' conflicts that had resulted in rapes, maiming, loss of lives, arson and destruction of property.
Presenting a lecture titled "Technical Options for Responding to Open Cattle Grazing in Edo State", Dr. Jim Omoyakhi of the Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Benin, noted that the menace was posing a serious security challenge to the corporate existence and unity of the nation.He decried a situation where cattle roam the street freely and even seen sometimes at the tarmacs of airports in a fashion that embarrasses the people and government of Nigeria.
Omoyakhi therefore tasked stakeholders on modern grazing technique for good breeds and enhanced profitability and income for the federal and state governments.
According to Prof. Ehimika Ifidon of the Department of History and International Studies of same institution, in his paper captioned "The conflict between the Nomadic Herdsman and Farmer in Historical Perspective ", Africa has perennially been regarded as a continent replete with conflicts and deaths. He said in volatile areas like the Niger-Delta, the protracted clashes could aggravate existing tension.
His words: "The friction between the herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria is a conflict over resources, primarily water and pasture. It is a fact that there is no grazing land in the South to satisfy the hundreds of cows that come from the North. The clashes between the farmers and herdsmen in Edo State are testimonies to the ecological incompatibility of the South with nomadic pastorialism."
To another UNIBEN don and a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Dr. Faith Osadolor, in his presentation, "Law and Movement of Animals in Towns and Cities of Edo State", every citizen is protected by the constitution to move freely and reside in any part of the federation but quickly noted that the movement of animals could be very fast, criminal and harmful to citizens if unregulated.He charged the state government to take the lead in adopting a modern approach to cattle rearing as obtained in Argentina, one of the highest cattle producers, worldwide.
The special guest of honour/state chairman of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Dan Orbih, who emphasised the importance of the event, said: "It was the concern for the wellbeing and security of lives and property that motivated the party to sponsor a bill to Edo House of Assembly seeking the enactment of a law for the prohibition of open grazing in the state.The chairman of the occasion, Justice Roland Amaize (rtd), had endorsed the gathering and lauded the organisers for their insight.The conference also drew professionals from the legal, medical and business sectors.