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Northern elders call for National Pastoralist Commission

The Professor Ango Abdullahi-led Northern Elders Forum, on Sunday, demanded the immediate setting up of a National Pastoralist Commission, as obtained in the South-South geopolitical zone, to act on all matters affecting the well-being and interests of all citizens whose livelihoods depend on livestock rearing.

The demand was a sequel to the proposed controversial National Animal Husbandry and Ranches Commission before the Senate.

The bill, if enacted, would prohibit open grazing nationwide, in a bid to resolve long standing conflicts between herders and farmers.

The PUNCH reports that penultimate Wednesday, tensions ran high at the Senate as the bill to ban open grazing passed its second reading.

The legislative session was marked by heated debates and strong emotions, reflecting the contentious nature of the proposed law.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Titus Zam, representing Benue North West.

The northern body, however, gave its condition for the bill as it advocated for the development of policies and programmes that supported the transition from open grazing to ranching, in a manner that would ensure the well-being of pastoral communities while also addressing the environmental and security issues associated with open grazing.

The NEF, in a statement through its Director of Publicity And Advocacy, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, in Kaduna, proposed the proclamation of a National Policy on Grazing and Livestock Development to cater to the needs of all the pastoral communities everywhere in the country.

“Successive governments have found it expeditious to establish structures like Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, Niger Delta Development Commission, Ministry of Niger Delta, the Amnesty Programme, etc, aimed at resolving a specific set of challenges affecting specific communities in the South,” the forum said.

It added that there was no justification whatsoever to resist or even question the creation of special initiatives to address the needs of herdsmen if these would lead to lasting peace and stability.

It asked the government to make its intention genuine by proclaiming a special intervention initiative through the Central Bank of Nigeria, ministries of Finance, National Planning, Agriculture and Water Resources.

The forum said the initiative must support special livestock development policies and the establishment of special funds to support pastoral communities along the lines of the Anchor Borrowers Programme and other types of Federal Government interventions.

On the proposed bill, the northern elders noted that even as some northern senators expressed opposition to the legislation, it recognised the importance of addressing the challenges posed by open grazing and the need for a more sustainable and modern approach to livestock management.

The NEF added that all stakeholders needed to engage in meaningful dialogue and consultation to find a balanced and acceptable solution which would take into account the interests of all parties involved.

“In light of the disagreements in the National Assembly on this matter, NEF calls for a collaborative and inclusive approach to decision-making that considers the diverse perspectives and concerns of all stakeholders.

“Meanwhile, the federal and state governments should immediately identify suitable lands across the country and create grazing reserves and cattle routes and, where resistance is shown, to expropriate such land as may be required for the purpose through resort to extant provisions of the Land Use Act and other related laws.

“We propose the proclamation of a National Policy on Grazing and Livestock Development to cater to the needs of all the pastoral communities everywhere in the country.

“We call for the immediate proclamation of a Special Intervention Initiative through the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Ministries of Finance, National Planning, Agriculture and Water Resources, for supporting special livestock development policies and the establishment of special funds to support pastoral communities along the lines of the Anchor Borrowers Programme and other types of Federal Government interventions.

“We call for the immediate setting up of a National Pastoralist Commission to act on all matters affecting the wellbeing and interests of all citizens whose livelihoods depend on livestock rearing.

“Successive governments have found it expeditious to establish structures like OMPADEC, NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta, the Amnesty Programme, etc aimed at resolving a specific set of challenges affecting specific communities in the South.

“There is, therefore, no justification whatsoever to resist or even question the creation of special initiatives to address the needs of herdsmen if these will lead to lasting peace and stability,” the statement read.

Sourcepunch

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