Thoughts on open grazing, PIB, 2023 presidency and southern govs




At least the southern governors are always seen and heard. It does not matter what they are seen or heard for, what matters is their people feel their presence. Could same be said for our governors in the North? 

I absolutely support their stand on the ban on open grazing. I have made that known a while ago in a post I published which reads; “I commend southern governors for banning open grazing (they have rejected RUGA too which is also fine by me), not because I am convinced by the justification they gave but because I think this move of theirs ought to discomfit our northern governors! 

 Perhaps, now, they’ll look at it from an economic perspective and try to act. 

 For God’s sake, the livestock industry is worth over N30 trillion in Nigeria, and if leveraged properly through the adoption of modern livestock management systems (ranching) would open the doors of the North to $3 billion in foreign exchange. This is beside, the huge amount of jobs that will be created across the value chain if we decide to industrialise the endeavour and the huge revenue that would accompany it. 

Just one governor can set the pace. They should even follow the PPP route. 

All of them are complaining of banditry, but they know that banditry is majorly a metamorphosis of a mismanaged farmer-herder crisis. Yet, they are not ready to take simple decisions and implement economic policies that have potential for medium and long term prevention of the menace!” 

I later learnt that Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state is going towards that direction with the Damau Household Milk Farm where “Kaduna State Government will be providing land as well as funding for the construction of roads, bridges, houses, grass, clinics, schools, markets and all the facilities that will be in the centre partly through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) window. “ Arla Global Dairy Company Limited will provide technical expertise.  This will assure the sedenterization of 1000 pastoralists, and an establishment of milk production facility all in 8000-hectare farm. I learnt another partnership with Nestle is in the pipeline. 

 This is what we should be seeing all over the northern states. 

In fact, the formal adoption of the National Livestock Transformation Plan was done since January 2019, and the federal government had already instituted the Program Coordination Secretariat domiciled at the office of the vice president saddled with responsibility of direct supervision and the National Livestock Transformation Plan Steering Committee which is the apex body responsible for meeting the set objectives of the plan. 

 But we have not seen pro-activeness on the part of our governors. 

 The states are supposed to, by virtue of the institutional arrangement for implementation, institute State Livestock Transformation Offices and State Livestock Transformation Steering Committees. This is one of the conditions for accessing FG’s 80% funding for any Livestock transformation plan the states submit. Other conditions include “provision of details of engagement with herders and farmers” and a “5% funding commitment to support the secretariat’s work”. And according to the implementation strategy, there are certain pilot states; Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba and Zamfara. 

However, in one of Northern Governors’ Forum meetings in 2019, they resolved that all 19 northern states should be considered as “frontline states”. 

We have not seen or heard of any state submitting any livestock transformation plan (have you heard any?), so it is safe to say they are lackadaisical about an issue that is a matter regional or even national security. And the southern governors being leaders of a region which is not the primary victim of the banditry menace are even more proactive than they are (for whatever reason). It is sad!  

I, however, find the southern governors’ disagreement with some sections of the PIB disingenuous. Where were they when the bill was being considered at the National Assembly? Where were they when it passed through all those preliminary stages? Where was there fraternal spirit? Or does it not extend to their colleagues at the National Assembly who were in the right position to influence the sections they have issues with? Why is the challenge coming after the bill’s passage? For God’s sake, this bill has been on the table for about 20 years, and it is after its passage before which it had been rigorously scrutinized across board that the governors suddenly found their voice? While I have my reservations too on the bill, I still find the southern governors’ approach to this very odd! 

I think the southern governors also made a tremendous misstep by deciding to adopt “selective mutism” as their order especially as they failed to discuss the very popular Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho saga. As a committee led by an astute man of the law, they intentionally decided not to deliberate on the legality (or otherwise) of acquisition of guns by citizens like Igboho. They also decided not to acknowledge the role Kanu played in inciting violence against the state. But they were able to decide that no security operation should ever hold in their domains again without their knowledge. Why could they not tell people where this decision of theirs is coming from? 

I agree that we need the emphasis of Mr President’s new “Language” more in the North, we are more in need of this brutal linguistics to be spoken to the bandits up here in the North, but I frown at how the governors intentionally decided not to touch on the very important and obvious factors associated with the Kanu and Igboho saga. 

And while they could not do that, they suddenly jumped to talk on the ever important zoning of the presidency. This portrays a really bad impression of them and their interests. Fortunately, politics is a game of numbers, and no matter how cogent it appears and how it appeals to some of us here in the North this agitation for a southern presidency come 2023, the fact that democracy is also a game of “consensus and compromises” should never be discounted and it should hint to the South that they need to play their game a bit wiser; the numbers lie in the North.  

Ringim, a political and public affairs analyst, writes from Zaria via [email protected]

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