The essence of governance revolves around People and Development, necessitating representation which connotes aligning with the needs and concerns of the people. It is on this basis that some state governments, particularly the Benue State Government, had cried out loud over the menace of OPEN CATTLE GRAZING which has not only threatened food security but has also led to loss of life and displacement of local communities. Some other states in the Southwest had since passed the law BANNING OPEN GRAZING in their states.
It is pertinent to recall that in the early 1950s, as we were growing up in the local communities, it was common site to observe the activities of sanitary inspectors who paraded homes to ensure acceptable healthy housekeeping and were authorised to arrest straying goats that were caught invading gardens. Owners of stray goats were penalised and fined and this was also a source of revenue generation for the Local Government Councils. But today herdsmen have graduated from invading farmlands using sticks to shepherd their cattle to now massively invading farmlands using sophisticated weaponry to ensure that they are not challenged by hapless farmers.
The very recent coming together by southern governors to condemn this trend and officially declaring the total ban of open cattle grazing is very much in keeping with the concerns of the people of the region. There have been allegations and claims of foreign herdsmen causing this mayhem to pleas that we should be our brothers’ keepers. But every lie has an expiry date!!! This is totally missing the point. CATTLE GRAZING is a private business venture and should not interfere with and degrade the farming business of others. CATTLE RANCHING HAS SINCE DISPLACED OPEN GRAZING in other climes. WHY NOT IN NIGERIA? Moreover their access to sophisticated weapons to invade farmlands and local territories speaks volumes of INTENTIONAL aggression and territorial ambition.
It is, therefore, shocking, insensitive and disingeneous to hear from the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Nigeria on national television that “banning cattle grazing in the south is equivalent to asking car spare parts dealers to leave the north.” BUT IS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL NOT AWARE OF THE HON. JUSTICE THOMPSON ADEWALE RULING OF 17TH APRIL, 1969: SUIT NO AB/26/66 AT ABEOKUTA DIVISION OF THE HIGH COURT? This IGNORANCE is nothing but a clear evidence of the calibre of leadership, selection of ministers and engagement of advisers that this country has been saddled with in recent years. But more deeply worrisome is the comparison of cattle grazing and spare parts business up north. If this is not a veiled threat to Ndigbo business up north, what else could it be? This is a sad reminder of what Ndigbo continue to go through in this country: ranging from demonstrations of religious activities in the Middle East or Afghanistan, to protests of cartoons in Europe, the fallout in Nigeria which will always bounce back on Ndigbo ventures in Nigeria, particularly up north. Coming from such level of governance in Nigeria, the South, particularly the Southeast must begin to indentify where the shoe pinches. This unfortunate utterance from a minister of justice is definitely beyond UNDERSTANDING!!! MINISTER OF JUSTICE INDEED!!!