Bayelsa House of Assembly on Tuesday held a Public Hearing on a bill seeking to prohibit open grazing of cattle in the state.
The bill entitled “Cattle Breeding, Rearing, Marketing, Regulation and Control 2017 was sponsored by the Leader of the House, Hon. Peter Akpe, representing Sagbama Constituency 1.
The public hearing held at the conference hall of the Assembly complex.
It was under the auspices of the House joint committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and Security and Special Duties.
Declaring the public hearing open, Speaker of the Assembly, Hon. Konbowei Benson said the House had resolved to adopt international best practices in its operations.
According to Friday, henceforth all bills being considered by the House now goes through public hearing.
Represented by the Chief Whip of the Assembly, Hon. Tonye Isenah, the Speaker noted that law making process is not an exclusive preserve of the 24 member House.
“We want to liberalize and open up for public participation. This bill was even at the Committee of the whole discussion before it was stood down in order to seek input from the public” he said.
Stressing the importance of the bill, the Speaker said the House was trying to forestall a situation having seen what is happening in other parts of the country with clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
“Even if nothing has happened at this other side, we should not rest on our oars.
“We need to ensure we nip it in the bud before we start having crisis in our hands”, he maintained.
Presenting an overview of the bill, the Leader of the Assembly, and sponsor of the bill, Akpe pointed out that the bill proposal was aimed at solving a lot of challenges.
He stressed the need to incorporate direct professional expertise in making the bill so that it would stand the test of time.
He said the usefulness of cattle in our everyday life has made it imperative for a legislation to further maximize the value to the society.
“There have been a lot of challenges in the management of cattle all over the country, not only in Bayelsa. We are also aware that a lot of lives have been lost both ways, by the cattle rearers on one hand and the farmers on the other hand.
“What of the economic losses? Somebody will finish planting with the hope of harvest, invest so much time, energy and money, then all of a sudden we hear that some kind of animals have come to do grazing there eating up everything.
“It takes the government and the people who have been privileged to be in the position and sensitive to peace, law and order to put institutions in place such that we will have the best out of the cattle and the best out of the farms.
“And we the people of Nigeria will continue to live more in peace and harmony”, the Leader explained.
According to him, the bill has 15 sections, specifying the formation of a committee to manage the activities of cattle in the state and other ancillary responsibilities.
Akpe also said the bill contains sanctions for violation of any aspect of its provisions.
He said, “By the time this bill becomes a law, the wandering of cattle around causing unnecessary road accidents, the wandering of cattle around causing pollution will be laid to rest.
“The intent of this bill is necessary to ensure the continued coexistence of Bayelsa people in the Nigeria entity in peace, harmony and prosperity”
Earlier,Chairman of the Joint House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and Security and Special Duties, Hon. Daniel Igali said the committee received seven position papers from stakeholders.
He said the bill under consideration is not a Bayelsa affair, but in response to what has become a national problem with incessant clashes between herdsmen and people who go about their businesses especially farmers.
“And what we are trying to do in Bayelsa which is almost novel is that while respecting the freedom of movement, you are also not to trespass on other people’s rights.
“We are also ensuring that those who rear cattle do it within the limits of the law. And that is why we are here”, the Committee chairman maintained.