The Plateau State Government and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) are at loggerheads over moves by the state government to implement its State Livestock Transformation Programme (SLTP) in the state.
The state governor had transmitted the bill for a law to establish the SLTP to the State House of Assembly, but MACBAN has raised the alarm and warned the state assembly not to pass the bill that could throw the state into another round of mayhem.
The State Chairman of MACBAN, Mr. Mohammad Abdullah, said that Legal Adviser of the association, Mr. Salisu Mohammad, in a press conference called the House of Assembly to suspend the bill in the general interest of the state and her citizens, describing the bill as disgusting.
Abdullah said that he got phone call on January 25, 2022, inviting him to a stakeholders’ meeting where the issue about SLTP was raised.
He said that he could not say anything at the meeting because he had no prior knowledge of it, so he pleaded for time to study the bill and also consult before coming up with a stand.
Abdullah said: “So, they gave us one week which was on February 2, 2022. We made our position known to the Plateau State House of Assembly through its Chairman, Public Hearing Committee.
“Having consulted stakeholders and professionals, we unanimously rejected the bill because of the procedures involved in obtaining permit to participate in the SLTP, considering that it may be difficult to get the permit considering the discriminatory tendencies towards Fulani herders on the Plateau.
“Another fear is on the penalties on violators of the law, which we felt is targeted at robbing and annihilating Fulani herders, and deprive them of their belongings.”
The cattle breeders rather recommended that the resources for the SLTP be redirected to other developmental programmes “that will impact positively on the development of the state.”
However, the state government has said that it was taken aback by the rejection of the bill, considering that MACBAN had always been carried along in the processes that built up to the bill.
A rejoinder from the Office of the Governor that was signed by Director-General of Research and Documentation, Government House, Professor John Wade, urged the assembly to “consider the overall common interest and in the light of the six pillars objectives of the Plateau State Livestock Transformation Programme and pass the bill into law, without prejudice,” adding that “we should all strive to be judged through time and history as being on positive side of progress and promoting mutual co-existence.”
Wade observed that “with the tremendous goodwill of government in carrying all and sundry along, including the MACBAN, it appears there is a lot of grandstanding, for whatever the leadership desire to achieve,” adding that leadership must be seen accountable in providing truthful guidance.
He said that the proposed law was meant to serve the overall interest of the people and not just a particular interest group or individuals. “We should not be seen and painted with the dangerous narrative of a state and people that fester on nepotism rather than embracing advisory exposition on virtues of good governance, predicated on justice, equity and accountability. Accordingly, and as a clarion call to MACBAN, we should always consolidate on the adage of thinking Plateau and acting Plateau,” Wade said.
The state government said that “the bill serves common good, and it’s all-encompassing, robustly predicated on six fundamental pillars, namely, economic benefit; conflict resolution; law and order; humanitarian relief; information, education and strategic communication; and other cross-cutting issues.
“The contents of each pillar are rich and self-explanatory; practical and implementable. The bill for the law clearly goes beyond the rhetoric of the misconceived ‘anti-grazing law,’ ‘land grabbing,’ ‘discrimination,’ ‘harassment,’ etc. The executive arm of government did its due diligence and the House of Assembly, in carrying out its mandate, did the needful by inviting the executive arm as well as relevant stakeholders and the general public for public hearing.
“Above all, it is worth noting that the Northern Governors Forum (NGF) has since unanimously adopted ranching as a policy throughout northern Nigeria. The allegations of political or religious bias by any group are therefore baseless.”