By Osahon Osahon
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Tuesday explained that the State has delayed signing the Anti-Open Grazing Bill into Law because it would not want to sign a law that would be difficult to enforce.
He explained this at a townhall stakeholders’ meeting to review the government’s strategies at improving security and stemming herders-farmers crisis in the State.
Recall that the 17 southern states of the country had set September 1 date for pass the Anti-Open Grazing Bill in each state.
Only a few of the states, including Edo, are yet to pass the Bill.
But, Obaseki said that “the delay in the signing of the law is to ensure the crafting of an implementable law that will put an end to the growing insecurity and economic challenges in the state.
“We are one of the few states that are yet to sign the Anti-Open Grazing law, and the reason is simple; it doesn’t make sense to put out a law you cannot enforce.
“The best way of enforcing a law is to bring everybody together to be part of that law. We have a crisis in our country, it is deeply rooted; there are different causes. Let us go to the root of the causes and resolve it from there.
“People have said that we have lived a hundred years together in harmony before now. Why are we having these problems today?”
“If we don’t go to the reason, then we will be scratching the surface. Let us start by understanding why we are having this challenge.
“The Anti-Grazing law, in my view, is to deal with some perceptions. I want to tell you that this is not an issue between Christians and Muslims; it is not an issue between North and South, and it is not an issue between Edo and Fulani people.
“As long as we have decided that we will eat meat and drink milk, we will have to sit down and rearrange the business, engaging the people who are producing these foods on how they must organize themselves.”
The Governor who urged that the issue should not be politicized, noted that there are security implications to it, because some people have now joined and are using these herders to perpetuate insecurity.
He went on: “My worry is that if we don’t separate them so that we can know those people who are using cattle herding to perpetrate crime and insecurity in our state, we will be missing the point.
“There are people who are doing their legitimate business of herding cattle and producing meat, and there are criminals who want to destabilise our country and state.”
Rev. Oriakhi Davies who represented the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Edo State Chapter, at the meeting, noted that cattle rearing is a private business and anybody interested in the business should acquire land for such business thus suggesting ranching as an alternative for open grazing.
On his part, the Chairman of Cattle Dealers Association, in the State, Alhaji Saad Ahmed, disclosed that “about 45 percent of cows consumed in Benin comes directly from the North.
Ahmed appealed to Governor Obaseki to treat everyone equally, irrespective of his religion and beliefs, saying that God has blessed Edo and his people have been living in the State without any trouble.
Stakeholders at the event included traditional rulers, youth groups, religious bodies and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), among others.