Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has come down hard on his Kaduna State counterpart, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, who dismissed the anti-open grazing laws being passed by most southern governors as “populist” and unrealistic.
Most governors in Nigeria’s southern region have been passing laws to ban open grazing of cattle within their jurisdictions.
However, El-Rufai has laughed off these pieces of legislation as simplistic and playing to the gallery.
El-Rufai had said: “But moving towards ranching cannot be done overnight. We have to have a plan; we have to have resources and we have to implement it sensibly.
“It is not a matter of populist legislation or saying tomorrow this or that. It is not a solution. We have taken a position as northern state governors and we are implementing that.
“These herders emanate from the north and we are going to centralize them. We cannot do it overnight. We need billions of naira. This is just one ranch that is costing 10 billion. I have 14 grazing reserves in Kaduna state and I would like to convince them into ranching. Do I have 14 times 10 billion naira? I don’t have.
“If the federal government will give me a hundred and fourteen billion, I will convert the other thirteen into ranches and make sure that nobody comes out with a cow or sheep in Kaduna State because I will have enough ranches to take care of everybody. That is the solution. You can legislate but let us wait and see. And I wish them the best of luck.”
In a statement issued by his Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, Akeredolu said El-Rufai’s comments were mischievous and were capable of encouraging anarchy and banditry.
Akeredolu also reiterated that the anti-open grazing laws, especially the one now in place in Ondo, have come to stay, saying, “It shall be zealously guarded and conscionably deployed to protect all residents of Ondo State, notwithstanding their ethnic and religious biases.”
He added that: “From all indications, Governor Nasir El-Rufai if he was properly quoted and his views not misrepresented, is struggling hard to export banditry to the south under an expressed opinion that is laced with mischief.
“Perhaps, it is apt to state clearly that the likes of Governor El-Rufai are already in a hysteric ‘mode’ of escalating and indeed, externalising banditry, especially as the military onslaught against criminal elements and other terror variants suffices in the north.
“For emphasis, any such comment like that of the Kaduna Governor, if indeed he made that statement, merely seeks to encourage anarchy under the guise of resentment of a law by affected stakeholders.”
There have been recurring clashes involving peripatetic livestock herders and crop farmers across Nigeria for decades. Most of these clashes have led to the loss of lives and the torching of communities.
The issue of open grazing of cattle in Nigeria has also assumed an ethnic, political and religious dimension.