Home Crime Oyo State Anti-Open Grazing Law And The Unforeseen Challenges | Mujib Dada-Qadri

Oyo State Anti-Open Grazing Law And The Unforeseen Challenges | Mujib Dada-Qadri


Evolution has always been part of man but man has necessarily been part of evolution but not without casualties and it’s own challenges, Charles Darwin “Baba isale of Evolution theory”(Godfather of evolution theory) also identified the challenges by identifying the “natural selection, cause and effect and survival of the fittest”. For laws to escape just being a “paper tiger”, the realities must be respected. We shall get to know in this article eventually whether the most recent Oyo State anti-open grazing law acknowledges the legal reality, financial reality, cultural reality, economic reality, technological reality and even security reality. We shall get to know if the law is more of an emotional outburst or maximum consensus of the concerned parties.
From the legal perspective, we are in a dilemma as to the law considering the “freedom of movement” enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and by the ECOWAS Transhumance Protocol of 1998 and ECOWAS Protocol of free movement of goods and persons in West Africa, one of the complexities on how it will be so hard stripping off Fulani herdsmen coming into Nigeria through our borders and most importantly finding their ways into Oyo State. If we are also to consider the international legal perspective, the laws in respect of open grazing vary from country to country and some states like “Wyoming” in America still practicing open grazing and some other states called “Open Range States” in America, this means pastoral farmers are not required to build fences or limit the roaming of their cows and in fact if your are being bothered as a neighbour you are responsible for fencing them out of your land but another legal creation of “Taylor Grazing Act” in the USA provides use of lands with grazing permits on some Federal rangelands/Federal Government lands. Also in England, we still have “common lands” legally recognized but meant for grazing subject to some charges and laws. I can go and on but it is observable that beyond mere legal creation of grazing laws, there are still government interventions and to also enlighten people as to diversities of laws on grazing despite civilizations and advancement in these countries. The point is, these laws vary even in advanced climes as it is seen in America where we have open grazing states and some have anti-open grazing.
Furthermore, economically and culturally viewing this law, we shouldn’t forget the deep rooted cultural relationship between Oyo State and Fulanis lasting for over a century with monumental peaceful relationship and inter-tribal marriages especially in towns like Igangan, Igboho, Igbo-ora, Shaki, Oyo, Kosobo etc. The Fulani cultural affinity in Oyo State is very unique and peculiar compared to all other southern states, the Fulanis find Oyo State as more accommodating settlement and have ever since remain part of our cultural diversity for years but not without some manageable rifts inspired by some “typical Fulani Bororojes” who have been more hostile and lacking proper identities. Suddenly, we have been witnessing rising crisis between farmers and Fulani herdsmen not only peculiar to Oyo State but we fail to undergo “social analysis” of reasons for the sudden rise in crisis between farmers and herdsmen in Oyo State and whether  politicizing or “tribalising” the matter is the most appropriate solution. Viewing through the Economic scope, Agriculture contributes 25.08% to our National GDP according to budgIT and pastoral farming will be so significant in the Agricultural sector considering the latest report of NIRSAL relating that meat consumption in Lagos only is worth 1.6bn daily, about 8,000 cattles are killed daily. If we are to compare this report in consideration of Oyo State population, it wouldn’t be hyperbolic to report that Oyo State will be consuming cattles worth 300million daily and if we calculate the annual consumption, we wouldn’t any fantastic statistician to tell us how significant pastoral farming is to Oyo State GDP.
Interestingly, South Africa and Egypt are the highest exporters of meat in Africa according to globalmeatnews.com but Ethiopia and Sudan have highest stocks of cattles in Africa, the only reason why South Africa and Egypt are the biggest exporters in Africa of meat despite not having massive cattles compared to Ethiopia and Sudan is simply because of “technological and industrial processing advantage”(sourced from FAOSTAT 2010) and Africa only produces 8% of total world’s meat while Asia produces 20% and the Americas produce 40%. The most fantastic information about the report is that despite the massive competition in global meat production, Nigeria has massive market advantage especially in cheaper local production and exploring the West African Market only if we are ready to adopt scientific and technology driven “cattle economy” but can’t this be done without Government intervention?, we all know the answers.
Moreover, going through some contents of the recent Oyo State anti-open grazing law just passed awaiting governor’s assent, i see more of an “ambitious and emotional law” with good intentions but blurred emotional colouring giving more protection to farmers against herdsmen who are critical stakeholders in Oyo State agricultural sector, the law despite it’s good intentions acknowledges the “rising rivalry” between the farmers and herdsmen but failed to give a rational solution, it simply gave “A ko feyin mo” answer (we don’t want you anymore). The law was birthed hastily without thorough understanding of the crisis and maximum dialogue between the parties considering the “emotional outburst” of the Miyetti Allah group in Oyo State too exclaiming that they find the law to be oppressive, this shows a “communication gap” and the provision of the law abolishing open grazing in all it’s entirety but failing to provide for any chance of “enabling environment” that will be make the ranching solution very realistic. Can these herdsmen afford to buy over 1,000 hectres of land and will the hosting towns be ready to give it out?. Why is there no special provision to accommodate them into the “farm settlement scheme” which is being pursued by the State Government very recently, i mean the Government masterminding the enabling INFRASTRUCTURES and inspiring the value chains that will make the ranching work realistically. Spontaneously telling the herdsmen who have been contributors to our GDP and whose major tribe have been part of our social fabric to create the enabling themselves or leave the state is more of an “emotional outburst” and it is very risky no matter the enforcement strategy, the challenges in Benue State are there for us to see despite the enactment.
Conclusively, i am not against taking off the herdsmen out of the street and reorganizing them into settlements/ranches for proper identification, formalization and advancement, it is a commendable Innovation and evolutionary process which the Federal Government has even adopted most recently but Oyo State attempting to enforce the law without maximum dialogue between the parties, enabling environment/INFRASTRUCTURES to accommodate the herdsmen they intend taking off the street and most importantly leading the development strategies which will involve scientific and technology approach will only make the law more of a “paper tiger”, tool of tribalism and inspiration for more security challenges which is the most scary.
Mujib Dada-Qadri is a Lawyer and a Policy Analyst

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