From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

As the debate on open grazing and ranching by herders ranges on at the National Assembly, the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) has taken a position, saying establishment of National Pastoralist Commission (NPC) was the best option to get out of the quagmire.

The Northern Elders noted that if the successive governments had found it safe to establish structures like OMPADEC, NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta, and Amnesty Programme, aimed at resolving a specific set of challenges affecting some communities in the South, there is no justification to resist the creation of special initiatives to address the needs of herdsmen if it would lead to lasting peace and stability.

In a statement yesterday by NEF spokesperson, Abdullazeez Suleiman, it also proposed the proclamation of a National Policy on Grazing and Livestock Development (NPGLD) to cater for the needs of all the pastoral communities across the country.

“The Northern Elders Forum has watched the ongoing debate in the National Assembly over the proposed law to end open grazing in the country and establish ranching agencies which has brought to light differing views among legislators.

“While the bill has passed first reading and is currently at the stage of second reading, some northern senators, led by Senator Adamu Aliero, have vehemently expressed their opposition to the legislation. The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) recognises the importance of addressing the challenges posed by open grazing, and the need for a more sustainable and modern approach to livestock management.

“We call for the immediate setting up of a National Pastoralist Commission (NPC) to act on all matters affecting the wellbeing and interests of all citizens, whose livelihoods depend on livestock rearing. Successive governments have found it expeditious to establish structures like OMPADEC, NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta, and the Amnesty Programme, among others, aimed at resolving a specific set of challenges affecting specific communities in the South.

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“We propose the proclamation of a National Policy on Grazing and Livestock Development (NPGLD) to cater for the needs of all the pastoral communities everywhere in the country. We call for the immediate proclamation of a special intervention initiative through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Ministries of Finance, National Planning, Agriculture and Water Resources, for supporting special livestock development policies, and the establishment of special funds to support pastoral communities along the lines of the Anchor Borrowers Programme and other types of Federal Government’s interventions.

“There is, therefore, no justification whatsoever to resist or even question the creation of special initiatives to address the needs of herdsmen if these will lead to lasting peace and stability.

“However, the Forum is aware of the concerns raised by some northern senators regarding the potential impact of the proposed law on the livelihoods of pastoralists in the region.

“NEF believes that it is crucial for all stakeholders to engage in meaningful dialogue and consultation to find a balanced and acceptable solution that takes into account the interests of all parties involved.

“The Forum advocates for the development of policies and programmes that support the transition from open grazing to ranching in a manner that ensures the well-being of pastoral communities, while also addressing the environmental and security issues associated with open grazing.

“In light of the disagreements in the National Assembly on this matter, NEF calls for a collaborative and inclusive approach to decision-making that considers the diverse perspectives and concerns of all stakeholders.

“Meanwhile, the Federal and State Governments should immediately identify suitable lands across the country, and create grazing reserves and cattle routes, and where resistance is shown, to expropriate such land as may be required for the purpose through resort to extant provisions of the Land Use Act and other related laws,” The statement said.


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