Establishing grazing reserves for a profession dominated by one tribe looks like favouritism

Give them loans to establish cattle ranches instead

Will there ever be a law establishing Trading Reserves all over Nigeria? I doubt it. Because that will just be like allowing the Igbos who dominate 80% of Nigeria’s tarde to take over the land of other tribes wholesale.

This is especially when a government commission will be established that is given the power to take any land that it or its members feel like taking over and adding it to our hypothetical trading reserve.

You will agree with me that establishing such reserves would amount to giving one ethnic group the keys to taking over the whole country, and in a country like Nigeria, where we have more than 100 proud ethnic groups, that would lead to many conflicts, because one thing people are very proud of in Nigeria is their ancestral lands.

To Nigerians, one’s ancestral land is one’s patrimony, given to them by their forefathers even before the British came and colonized the land. So, it is something that has one’s soul in it. For a government and legislators to come and propose a law that will give a government commission the power to take over large portions of the ancestral lands of one ethnic group is extremely unpalatable.

But when that proposed law goes even further and specifies that all the land to be collected will effectively become an area reserved for another ethnic group, it begins to look like a way to take over land from one ethnic group and give it to another. That is just how the bill presently in the National Assembly that proposes the creation of Cattle Grazing Reserves all over the country looks like.

It looks like an indirect ethnic land grab, especially when the ethnic group that will benefit, the Fulani who control cattle rearing business, is the same ethnic group that has produced the current president of the country and a large number of the lawmakers in the National Assembly.

At this point, let me take a moment to condemn the timid silence of most of the lawmakers from the Southern part of the country – and the North Central – who  have kept mute while the bill has scaled both First and Second  Readings. Their constituents are the ones who will be adversely affected by this bill and they cant find their voice?

Then let’s look at this thing called grazing, which has led to this proposed solution. The plain truth as everyone seems to have realized is that grazing is outdated and unfit for the new millennium.

But instead of the Federal Government to encourage ranching which is the in thing now, they are trying to encourage grazing reserves where only one ethnic group will be advantaged while all other ethnic groups will be unfairly disadvantaged.

Grazing has led to many deaths in many parts of the country, from the South West to the South East; from the South South to the North Central. Frequently, quarrels occur between farmers and cattle herdsmen because when farmers come to their farms, cows have eaten all the crops the farmer took a lot of effort to plant.

No human being will be happy to come to his workplace and see that all his labours have been destroyed just like that. Some of these farmers whose crops are destroyed are not even commercial farmers but subsistence farmers, who are so poor the only real money they have are the crops they have planted, which they hope to later exchange for other badly needed commodities.

So, when these farmers protest, they are attacked and killed and the men in their community are killed and the women raped. Now that is very bad. But thankfully, the Federal Government has recognized the urgent importance of phasing out grazing. But ranching, not grazing reserves is the answer to ending grazing and the problems that come with it.

If the cattle rearers want to get land fo their activities, they should go and buy land like any other Nigerian businessman. The government should not condemn and seize people’s lands to give it to one ethnic group.

What the government can do, because of the urgency of phasing out grazing is to grant loans to the herdsmen, to go out and persuade people to sell lands to them for cattle ranching.

Currently, the bill to introduce grazing reserves has passed Second Reading in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. According to or constitution, if the bill passes Third Reading… the only thing that will stop it from becoming law is if President Buhari refuses to sign it.

I even hear the proposed bill to would require anyone who wants to challenge the addition of his land to the grazing reserves by the Federal Government to first take permission from the same Federal Government he wants to sue. That’s Apartheid loading, folks.

So now is the time for everyone who values peace to call their lawmakers and put pressure on them to make sure that this bill does not pass Third Reading in either the Senate or the House of Representatives. It’s contents portend rancour for the nation.

Phone your senator and representative and tell them not just to vote against the bill, but also to make sure they speak vehemently against it. Tell him to oppose the bill in the next reading. Let the grazing reserves bill be stopped.

You can get the phone number of your senator from this link. If 100,000 Nigerians can call their senators and ask them to oppose this bill, it will make a great impression on the senators, and they would know how dear the matter at hand is to you the voter.

Tell the senators to instead propose the setting up of a fund that would provide loans for any cattle rearing organization that has been in the profession for up to 20 years, so, businesses that have been rearing cattle for a minimum of 20 years can easily get financing to go buy land from any part of the country to establish cattle farms or ranches. (Nothing wrong with that.)

This does not mean that other Nigerians cannot wake up one day and decide to enter cattle ranching, but rather, that they wouldn’t qualify for the loan from the fund, and can source their cash from elsewhere.

What I am simply saying is that: Yes, we all agree that grazing should be phased out. But it should not be replaced with grazing reserves, but rather with ranching #replacegrazingwithranchesnotreserves.

Reason being that creating grazing reserves all over the country today will seem like an indirect land grab on the behalf of one ethnic group to the detriment of all others. And you will agree with me that such will cause a lot of bitterness and acrimony in the polity.

By OzoIgboNdu1 of Igbo Defender

I am an Igbo prince. Onye Igbo ka m bu!

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