Open grazing: Abdullahi Adamu slams El-Rufai, Masari, Ortom, advocates free movement of cattle

A former governor of Nasarawa state and serving federal lawmaker, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, has faulted northern governors planning to ban open grazing in their states.

Senator Adamu who kicked against the move in its entirety, also said movement of herders with their cattle is constitutional while describing anti-open grazing law as unconstitutional.

He also declared that contrary to yearnings in some parts of the country for a possible southern presidency in 2023, the 1999 Constitution does not make provision for rotational presidency.

The lawmaker made the positions known while fielding questions from the Senate Press Corps Monday in Abuja.

The southern governors, had, at the end of their meeting in Asaba, agreed to enact   anti-open grazing laws in the region to curb incessant clashes between herders and farmers.

As at the time of this report, Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and his Enugu counterpart, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had signed the anti-open grazing law, making open grazing an offence in their states.

El-Rufai, Masari, Ortom on open grazing

Although the former governor was not specific on any northern governor, but Kaduna state Governor Nasir El-Rufai and his Katsina counterpart, had at different times faulted the open grazing by cattle herders.

Also, Benue state Governor David Ortom has signed into law the ban on open grazing amidst criticisms from certain quarters.

Speaking earlier in the year during a visit to Yola, Adamawa state, Governor El-Rufai had said:“I am a Fulani man. Today, I’m the governor of Kaduna State because I went to school. My parents were settled in one place breeding their livestock.”

“The ranching system has so many advantages. For one, it enables children of herders to go to school and have access to quality education like any other Nigerian,” El-Rufai added, even as he said the northern states would need the federal government’s support to get ranching in place.   

Similarly, while featuring on Channels Television last week, Governor Masari had hinted on the state government’s tacit support for non-open grazing method.   

“We intend to have a law banning (cattle) roaming but before we do that, we would make provisions for where the animals would stay,” the governor said during the programme.

“Herdsmen should stay in one place. Roaming about should not be encouraged. In fact, for us, it is un-Islamic. Why do you have animals that you cannot feed and you have to go to other people’s land and farm and you say that is right? I don’t think it is right,” the governor had said.

Masari added: “We already have started. The federal government has given us N6.2 billion and as a state government, we are also investing N6.2 billion. The objective is to have Fulanis stay in one place.”

Adamu kicks

But fielding questions from journalists Monday in Abuja, Adamu said  in as much as it’s wrong for  any herder to use his cattle to destroy the farms, it is unconstitutionally for anybody to restrict his movement or criminalise cattle rearing business going by provisions of free movement and legitimate business in the 1999 Constitution.

He said: “The fact that a governor or two is doing that doesn’t take away the right of herders. Nature abhors vacuum. The duty to protect the right of farmers rests squarely with the governors.

“The question to ask is that have the governors done the right thing. The answer is no. The stance of some Northern Governors doesn’t change my position against the law which, as far as the provisions of the 1999 Constitution are concerned, is nullity.

“If you can protect a spare parts dealer, why can’t you protect a herder? If government can save private banks with public money, why can’t we do that with herders? I am for modernisation but the government must address the problem genuinely.”

On 2023 election 

Speaking on the 2023 presidential election, the former governor said those nursing the idea of zoning or rotational presidency should jettison it since it is not provided for by the 1999 Constitution.

He said: “No part of Nigerian constitution provides for zoning or rotation of political offices , meaning that for anybody to become President , he or she must be ready to go through the ballot box .

 “You can’t just wish away a position that is fundamental to the life of a country. You can’t talk of merit and talk of zoning. The issue of rotation, let’s just go by merit. Let every party find a way of selling itself in a manner as to garner the kind of votes to deliver the presidential result. It is as simple as that. 

“What we are practicing is democracy which is government of the people, by the people and for the people. It therefore amounts to wishful thinking for anybody to be thinking of zoning to get to office.”

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