State governments have the right to make laws to protect their citizens as they deem fit
Going by reports credited to the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hor that the anti-grazing laws being enacted by some state governments is a time-bomb, it is obvious that the herdsmen’s group has not come to grips with the fact that old things have passed away with regard to cattle rearing. And the group can only continue to hold such a view at the risk of being branded an outlaw.
Miyetti Allah expressed this view after its meeting in the north-west zone in Kaduna. In its view, the law is an attempt to destroy herders’ means of livelihood. It wants the law reviewed urgently and indeed, called on the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to provide adequate security for herdsmen, particularly in Benue State, saying that their (herdsmen’s) lives were under threat.
National President of the group, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello-Bodejo, and the national secretary, Alhaji Sale Alhassan, at a joint press conference held after the meeting said: “The grazing law agenda is destroying herders’ means of livelihood and we are appealing for immediate intervention to save Fulani pastoralists from total destruction of their means of livelihood by current trends from some state governors enacting segregational (sic) anti-open grazing law which target primarily the economic livelihood of the herders.”
Indeed, what the press conference exposed was the selfish consideration of the herdsmen; they spoke as if life is all about them alone while other people do not have the right to also protect their enlightened self-interest. Hear them again: “we are completely opposed to the anti-grazing law, and we are worried about the possible crisis that may emerge if such law as allowed to take effect.
“It is a negative law because it attempts to expel Fulani herdsmen from their grazing areas for ages, besides, that Benue anti-grazing law, no herder was involved during the course of its preparation to get their input.”
Another point that the herdsmen do not seem to understand is that they have nothing that could be called “their grazing areas for ages.” Those places where they have been grazing ‘for ages” belong to some other people who also have the right to protect their own sources of livelihood. Their leaders should therefore educate them on this important aspect; that where their own freedom to graze stops, others’ begins.
All over the country there has been growing resentment against the menace of the cattle rearers who have come to see grazing anywhere in the country as their natural right and would stop at nothing to maintain the status quo, even when it is glaring that their model of rearing cattle has become anachronistic.
Miyetti Allah will do well to be looking in the direction of ranches, which is the modern way of rearing cattle. The fact is; cattle rearers are into business and they should be ready to make the necessary investments in their operations, instead of living in the past or issuing threats to other people even in their own territories. Cattle rearers were allowed unfettered movement across the country at some time and if today, people are now enacting laws to prohibit such, they have the right to so do.
The point has been made that in terms of the supply of protein, Nigeria’s cattle are about the least beneficial; ditto milk production. And this is due to the long distances the cattle are made to travel on foot, thereby losing calories in the process. It is not the duty of Miyetti Allah to say its members are peace-loving; other Nigerians who have been victims of their violent activities will give different testimonies. From the north to the south-east, to the south-south and the south-west, the cattle rearers have led in their trail destruction of farmlands, rape, murder and other violent activities. It will be preposterous on their part to expect state governments to fold their arms and watch people in the name of cattle rearing continue to inflict pains on others
If there are issues the herdsmen may want to discuss with the Federal Government regarding their breed which they say is not ideal for ranching, they should do so. This is better than insisting that state governments should enact anti-grazing laws in the image of Miyetti Allah and its members.