Herders may be in for a tough time as the governors of 15 states in Southern Nigeria have resolved to ban open grazing of cattle in their states.
This was part of the 12 resolutions reached by the governors at their Tuesday meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
Open grazing of cattle has often caused conflicts between host communities and migrant herders, leading to several deaths in many states.
Some of the herders have also been accused of committing other criminal acts like armed robbery, kidnappings, and murder.
Following the incessant conflict, the southern governors held a four hours meeting in Asaba on Tuesday.
According to a 12-point communique read by its Chairman, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, at the end of the meeting, they agreed that open grazing should be banned.
They “affirmed that the people of Southern Nigeria remain committed to the unity of Nigeria on the basis of justice, fairness, equity and oneness and peaceful co-existence between and among its peoples with a focus on the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity.”
The governors said the incursion of armed herders, criminals, and bandits into the Southern part of the country has presented a severe security challenge such that citizens are not able to live their normal lives.
They, therefore, resolved “that open grazing of cattle be banned across Southern Nigeria; noted that development and population growth has put pressure on available land and increased the prospects of conflict between migrating herders and local populations in the South. Given this scenario, it becomes imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the South (including cattle movement to the South by foot).”
Also, they recommended that the federal government should support states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.
Many southern states already banned open grazing
In February, Akeredolu had announced the ban on open grazing in Ondo State. In Ogun, the speaker of the assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, also said plans were underway to legislate on animal husbandry and related activities through the enactment of an all-inclusive law on anti-open grazing in the state. Open grazing has also been banned in Oyo State.
All south-east governors, during the launch of their Ebube Agu security outfit in April, also banned open grazing and urged the security agencies to enforce the ban in the states.
Apart from a ban on open grazing, the 17 southern governors also advocated restructuring of the country.
The call came amidst demands by several Nigerians that urgent restructuring would save Nigeria from breaking up.
Speaking on this, the southern governors agreed that the “progress of the nation requires that urgent and bold steps be taken to restructure the Nigerian Federation leading to the evolution of state police.”
They also expressed concern about the current security challenges in the country and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to address Nigerians on the situation so as to restore the people’s confidence in the government.
Nigeria has been battling with various forms of insecurity for years and many have agitated for state police.
The security challenges in the South-west led to the creation of a paramilitary outfit, Amotekun, by states in the region.
The governors of the South-east states in April also resolved to maintain a joint security outfit to be called Ebube Agu.
Last week, 85 people were killed and 17 kidnapped in violent attacks across the country.