By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

Farmers/Herders clashes: Reps initiate Climate Change Bill to tackle insecurity

IN a bid to find a lasting solution to the incessant clashes between farmers and herders, the joint climate change bill review committee and the legal working group Tuesday met to fast track the passage of the Bill on Climate Change aimed at ending the clashes.

The joint team was from the National Assembly and the Ministries of Justice and Employment.

Speaking to journalists, Chairman of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on Climate Change, Rep Samuel Onuigbo, said climate change has significantly contributed to the raging problem of insecurity faced in the country.

Onuigbo, who represents Ikwuano/Umuahia North and South Federal Constituency of Abia State, was Chairman of the House Committee on Climate Change in the 8th Assembly and had sponsored the bill on Climate Change in 2016 but it was not assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari after it was passed into law.

The lawmaker noted that climate change was responsible for farmers/herders clashes, banditry, kidnappings and insurgency among others.

He said climate change has devastated a lot of areas where people used to graze their cattle up north across the Sahel region and as a result, a lot of these herders are now pushing down south, where they can find vegetation for grazing.

According to him, “Consequently as they moved down from the northern part of the country, they now come to areas where people farm in their farmland and they start clashing with those people because it is a confrontation arising from those who want their cattle to graze and then this is somebody’s farm that he has spent time and money to really prepare and within a minute the whole thing is gone.

“So the farmer would react. And we want a situation where we still have the grazing areas up north, where the herders can graze their cattle and do their farming.

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“Do not forget that even Lake Chad that previously provided means of livelihood for over 30 million people has almost dried up. From what used to be over 25, 000 square miles to just about 2500 square miles.

“So those who were doing farming there are no longer having areas to farm. Those who were doing animal husbandry around there no longer have areas to do that. And these who were doing fishing they don’t have somewhere to fish. So these individuals have poured into the cities and the outcome that you have is serious crisis insurgency and even the serious problem of Boko Haram.”

He said a law on climate change will help the government to focus efforts and resources in a coordinated manner to address these challenges.

He said, “That is why this bill is important. We have called this meeting to be able to work together and look at the bill which I sponsored which by the special grace of God is almost moving to the committee of the whole.

“We have taken in ideas from different critical segments of the society and the meeting we are having here today was authorized by the Speaker of the House of Representatives who appointed me the chairman to coordinate the review of the climate change bill.

“We have worked on this bill extensively and like I said it has gone through first and second reading and about to be committed to the committee of the whole. But what we have done is to review the bill and make sure that the areas that were raised as challenges or gray areas are adequately addressed so that when the bill is finally passed by the House and the Senate and eventually transmitted to the President for his assent, those gray areas would no longer constitute a problem.

“We want the bill to get easy assent. This bill is important as we all know. We know the impact of climate change on Nigeria in particular and its contribution to some of the challenges we are having security wise like clashes of farmers and herders.

“More than that we have seen the pollution around the country, particularly in areas where oil is being produced. We also experience issues with coastal erosion, gully erosion, desertification and flood.

“These are issues that we are sure that by the end of the day once this bill is assented to, there would be addressed adequately because right now we are not addressing them in the most coordinated manner,” he said.

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