The anti grazing bill in Edo State is an attempt by Edo PDP to cause mayhem and anarchy which will enable them to blame Governor Godwin Obaseki. The question an average Edo man asks today is who are Edo cattle owners? Prominent members of Edo PDP are cattle owners that the anti grazing bill sponsored by Edo PDP does not address. I want the Edo State House of Assembly to reject the bill because Edo PDP wants to use the bill to cause chaos and anarchy just like what is happening in Benue State. Another name for this bill is CHAOS GRAZING BILL. The people of Edo State want to know the damage that the cows owned by prominent members of Edo PDP have done to our farms. We are interested on how prominent members of Edo PDP recruit Fulani men that take care of their cows. Edo PDP should tell the people of Edo State of how many of them have employed Fulanis to take care of their cows.
Many natives in Edo State are cattle owners and majority of the cows in Edo State are owned by prominent Edo people who are mainly members of PDP. From Okada to Amagba to Ehor and others prominent Edo people mostly members of PDP are cattle owners. Why is Edo PDP silent on its members who employed the service of Fulanis as herdsmen? Many Nigerians are not aware that people from Southern Nigeria own cows like those from the North in the 21st century. I challenge Edo State indigenes who are cattle owners to speak out. Many of Edo people are among the powerful Nigerians who are cattle owners.
The Fulani Herdsmen terrorists do not own cattle: Fulani herdsmen killers’ major job description is just to take care of cattle. They do not own any cattle. Most of them are employed as “security men” whose job is strictly to protect the cattle. The Fulani herdsmen that accompany cattle from the North to the South per season do not own cattle. They are owned by prominent Fulani leaders in the country. Most Nigerian Fulanis are no longer migratory herdsmen, but big men in Nigerian politics and business but still maintain their ownership of cattle.
A Bill to Prohibit Open Rearing and Grazing of Livestock and Provide for the Establishment of Ranches and Livestock Administration, Regulation and Control and for Other Matters Connected Therewith 2018, has been sent to the Edo State House of Assembly by the opposition party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The Edo PDP proposed bill prohibiting open rearing and grazing of livestock across the state provides for the establishment of ranches and livestock administration, regulation and control.
State party chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, who addressed newsmen in Benin City did not tell the people of Edo State the cattle owned by prominent members of Edo PDP that had destroyed crop farms, community ponds, settlements, and property by open rearing and grazing of livestock.
Fulanis own some of the cattle in Edo; but the vast majority of the cattle are owned by people from Edo State. This leads to several questions: Who are the cattle owners in Edo? How many heads of cattle does each of them own? How much tax do they pay on each head of cattle? Surely, the herdsmen we see carrying AK-47 rifles and following the cows through the highways, villages, and farmlands are not the owners of the cows they tend. Rather, they are hired by the cattle owners to ensure that the cattle are fed and defended against rustling and other dangers.
The ownership of cattle goes well beyond the Fulani. Many Edo people and Northern politicians of various ethnicities, especially governors, senators, and members of the House of Representatives as well as their predecessors in office, also own cattle. So do businessmen and thousands of livestock farmers. It is also true of military and ex-military officers from the North and South.
Interestingly, the ownership of cattle in Edo State is not limited to Northerners. There is no state in the federation in which cattle owners do not reside with their cattle. And not all of such owners are Northerners. In every state, there are indigenes who own cattle. For example, the rumour is very rife that prominent Edo State people from Okada in Ovia North East to Amagba in Oredo and Auchi in Etsako West and to Uromi in Esan North East, own several hundreds of heads of cattle.
What seems to be common to all cattle owners in the country is the hiring of Fulani herdsmen to tend their cattle. So far, the people’s anger has been directed at these herdsmen, who are being blamed for the serial conflicts with local farmers, whose farmlands and entire villages are being plundered by the cattle. It is high time the owners of the cattle were brought into the equation.
There has been so much hatred against the Fulani by other Nigerians over the years and successive governments never cared to see to the challenges facing the Fulanis in this country. Top military brass, governors, local government chairmen whether past or present and powerful Nigerians, are owners of cattle. The cattle or cows you see being grazed don’t belong to herdsmen, but they belong to IGs, Major Generals, governors and other powerful Nigerians”.
I want to beg Edo State House of Assembly not to pass anti-grazing law to prohibit nomadic Fulani from grazing their cattle within Edo. Let us use dialogue and the traditional approach. See what is happening in Benue.
I want to suggest that the solution is that the Edo PDP should withdrew the anti-open grazing bill, let Dan Orbih look at Edo State as home for all irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliation. Dan Orbih should be reminded that Obaseki sworn to protect and defend the lives of all citizens of Edo State not minding their tribe, religion or political background. Dan Orbih should learn from Benue and the proposed anti grazing bill is an invitation to anarchy.
Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin City firstname.lastname@example.org