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Grazing rights, routes or reserves? It is a subtle way to Islamise Nigeria – CAN

Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has rejected grazing rights, routes or reserves (3Rs), saying it is a subtle way by the Federal Government to Islamise Nigeria.  The position came in a memorandum CAN submitted to the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Production and Services, on incessant clashes between pastoralists, farmers and farming communities, last week (April 26 and 27)

Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor....Islamic banks illegal but functioning
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor….Islamic banks illegal but functioning

This paper is presented by Professor  Funmilayo  Adesanya-Davies, a woman.  As the only woman, making a presentation,  looking at the grazing bill through the eyes and perception of the woman will be one of the wisest things the National Assembly will  have to  do. The reasons are not farfetched. She is the mother of not just her children but the nation’s children. Also,  she is fashioned by God,  the creator to be a fitted help,not only  for  her husband but the  whole  community of men.

As a mother,  I see this bill  rather than an attempt to give the Fulani herdsmen space, but  as an attempt to  institutionalise  Boko  Haramthroughout the country and cripple our children with fears of a people,who rather  than  love  human beings,  are more caring  and  more intimate with their  herds. Fear has torments and as mothers,  we see our  children being tormented  physically and  even  psychologically and  emotionally. Time will not permit me to do justice in analyzing the nature of the torments and their effects on our children. As an adult,  let me recount my ordeal  as a university professor, living near students’  hostels on the University  campus.

I have Fulani Nomads living behind my house in Port Harcourt. They  are wild, uncivilized and inaccessible. They wake us up at  four  4 o’clock  am daily  and make everyone including all my students living in  several  four  4-storey buildings  nearby  have high blood pressure. I hope those buildings will not crash soon around my university. When I offered to buy them a grinding machine, they said pounding is their culture, yet their women showed me bleeding blistered hands. When I insisted that I would buy the grinder, they asked me how I would be fuelling it.

When I told them to go to the nearby grinder to grind, they said they don’t have  N20 naira to grind. When the  Iwofe  University community told them that they would be  reported to the police authorities, they threw such great tantrums threatening that they would wipe away the entire university community and the  whole  Universe!

Their utterances and actions portray that they are ABOVE THE LAW.  Everybody and even farmers  who cherish life  are  terrified of them  as they  kill,  rape, bomb, loot  and maim anyone that  entreats  them. I had to go and complain to my brother, the Alhaji, who was hosting them on his land in Port Harcourt, to please intervene; which he graciously obliged me.

This should not be treated as an isolated case because I represent the so many women of Nigeria who may never  be  confident enough to present a memorandum of this nature. I carry their pains and anxieties here because  I am a woman like them. As wife,  I wish to kneel down and beg our men not  to  allow them to spread this  hostility for whatever reasons  which they  may be advancing, not at this point in  time  in our history as a nation, when we are struggling with  Boko  Haram  Insurgents.

I will cite a second testimony as a  Kwaran  from Ira, Kwara State Nigeria. For some time now, whenever,  I go home, I observe that the women donot go to their farms anymore.  Upon enquiry from the Oba and the women themselves, they explained that the Fulani herdsmen have taken over  all  their farms  with  all their crops are eaten up by their cows. They  further exclaimed that the herdsmen  rape and kill if they dare sight them on their farms.

The men also do not bother going at all.  The  Kabiyesisaid he has intervened, but the policemen are also afraid of the Fulani herdsmen. So the Farming occupation has  thus  been truncated.  GOD  help  us!

To my mind, the  Fulani herdsmen are business people like others seeking opportunity to market and enlarge their industry. Even  nowdoctors are warning that red meat consumption should be curtailed  and not as healthy as we thought. What  right  has the Nigerian Government to forcefully take community lands  by legislation to enlarge the  Fulaniscow business?

Is it that  other livestock farmers  eg  snail, goat etc.  will also in every State be given a land as they desire for the enlargement of their businesses  throughout the country?  Is this the  wish  of the averageNigerian or is  it  that the  Fulanis  have terrorized us so much  such  that our husbands have become cowards to please them? God forbid!  If our husbands will not protect us,  we will have  no  choice but to move out on the street,  if this bill is passed,  to be killed by the bullets of our motherland.

HIGHLIGHTS

The Federal Government plans  to encourage  the Cow Fulani  Breeders to establish private Cattle Ranches  and  Grazing Reserves  which  is outdated, unscientific and unsustainable. That the nomadic culture of moving cattle from one place to another is not economically sound and that the culture should change for the creation of private cattle ranches with access to all the necessary amenities like schools, hospitals, Banks and proximity to Agro allied industries like Dairy, Tannery and Beef Production.

The  startling statistics on the un-productivity of the current nomadic system is evident.  The population of Cattle in Nigeria  is  15million as against Brazil’s 220  million.  Our dairy/milk production is extremely poor with 1L/cow compared to Brazil and Saudi Arabia of  30-40L/cow). Saudi Arabia produces 10  million pints of milk daily while Nigeria spends $1.32million annually on importation of milk powder.

The Government is to  assist Breeders with grazing grass seed and other incentives.

CHRISTIAN  ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA  (Nigerian Graduate Christian Fellowship Submission  – An Affiliate of CAN)

  1. A) Grazing reserve/grazing route is unsustainable, conflicts with Land use act of our constitution that vested the power on land allocation to State Governors and not the Federal Government. It is also prone to conflicts with host communities and Farmers.

B)The best solution is private ownership of modern day cattle ranches with access to veterinary services, Schools, Irrigation/water supply and other social amenities

  1. C) It is wrong for Federal Government to seize a community land and give it to Private businessmen who are cattle breeders as it favours one group at the expense of others.
  2. D) The land mass in Northern Nigeria far outstrips what obtained in the South. The entire South eastern states have a land mass of 28,982km2  which is smaller than Kogi State (29,582  km2)!

The entire southern states in the west, east and south  south  is less than a third of the land mass in the North. It is therefore wrong for Government to allocate land from the South to breeders from the North.

  1. E) Sambisia  forest which is approximately 60,000  Km2  and has more than 6million hectares of land can be used as a national ranch where all breeders from different parts of the country can breed their cattle. This will help to develop the area and derive  Boko  Haram  their haven.
  2. F) That the Fulani Herdsmen causing havoc, raping women, and armed with sophisticated weapons is a grave security threat to the country and should be treated as terrorists.
  3. G) Government’s proposal to solve herdsmen/farmers incessant clashes by introducing grazing land reserve all over the country will in our opinion extend their terrorist activities all over the country and this is not acceptable.
  4. H) The idea that grazing reserves as a panacea to the problem is not only archaic, but unscientific, unsustainable and most modern nations including Saudi Arabia have introduced ranches instead of  Nomadism.
  5. I) Moreover, cattle rearing as practiced in Nigeria  is a private business, therefore it is unfair for Government to acquire land from Farmers which is their only means of livelihood and give same to the Fulani Herdsmen free of charge.  In summary, we advocate the Ranching system which will restrict every Farmer to his own portion of land thus eliminating incessant clashes and unnecessary loss of lives and properties.

RECOMMENDATIONS  BY CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (CAN)

  1. No grazing rights, routes or reserves (3Rs) because it is  private business and tax payers’  money should not be used as in othernormal private  businesses in the country.
  2. Loans should be sourced for  through banks, Federal/State ministries, like other businesses in Nigeria to facilitate their education as an association to improve themselves so that they can fit in with 21st  century Nomad practices in line with the millennium development goals.  It is a well known fact that the Federal Government has released billions of naira for Grazing Reserves in Northern Nigeria which we presume should be enough.
  3. Lands should be sourced at state level or through Northern Governors’ forum where the cows will be in their natural habitat in northern Nigeria.  This should not be done by COERCION, MANIPULATION, INTIMIDATION, ENFORCEMENT OF LAW or THE PASSING OF ANY BILL INTO MOTION but with PERSUASION and ENCOURAGEMENT. State Governors should be adequately educated on what they stand to benefit.
  4. Ranches/Reserves should be restricted to state of origin of Nomads or anyone into animal husbandry and the remaining untapped, uncultivated vast land space on the entire planet which happens to be in Northern Nigeria.
  5. Chief  Awolowo  said “Tap  and pipe water from the Atlantic Ocean to  irrigate the whole of  Northern Nigeria  like other deserts of the world  and you will feed the  entire world from here”.
  6. There should be no driving of herds all over the nation  as the excuse to mass murder Nigerians in the South.
  7. All Nigerian borders should be tightened,  because most of these so called Fulani herdsmen  who  are actually  Boko  Haram  and illegal immigrants from neighbouring Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Benin Republic etc. They are definitely not our Nigerian brothers.

CONCLUSION:

  1. WE BELIEVE THAT THE NATIONAL GRAZING BILL  IS A SUBTLE WAY FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO ISLAMISE NIGERIA. So, in order to alleviate and prove our fears wrong, such a BILL SHOULD NEVER  BE PASSED INTO MOTION  because it is not a LEGISLATIVE ISSUE.
  2. We are of the opinion  that there should be constant dialogue with all the stake holders to formulate a holistic plan that will promote peace, harmony and advancement of our Livestock industry,  so that we don’t divide Nigeria into  Southeria  and  Northeria  either  overtly or covertly.

 


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