By Ralph Madugu
The Plateau State branch of the Miyyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has rejected the bill for a law to establish the Plateau State Livestock Transformation Programme (SLTP).
MACBAN, in a submission titled ‘The Stance of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) Plateau State Chapter Regarding the Bill “A Bill For A Law To Establish The Plateau State Livestock Transformation Programme (SLTP) And For Other Matters Connected, 2020”, to the State House of Assembly,’ said: “Having gone through the bill…and making necessary consultations, the Fulani herders have unanimously rejected and are not in support of the bill for the following reasons:
“Ranching which is an alien form of livestock and animal husbandry development in the entire Africa sub-region.
“Ranching is a capital intensive project which requires huge capital investment. Hence, the Fulani herders cannot afford it.
“The species of livestock the Fulani herders have cannot be ranched because of the breed which will expose them to diseases that will slow production, growth and development.”
MACBAN insisted that the proposed law would jeopardize the nascent peace enjoyed on the Plateau because of the misconception a lot of Fulani herders and general public have about it.
The Association stated that considering part IV clause 42-46 of the bill, which provide issuance, procedures for obtaining ranching permit, ranch land lease and getting the ranch permit, it would be difficult for the Fulani herders to acquire these considering the discrimination against Fulani herders in the state.
It added that Part IV of the bill, ‘clauses 57 and 58 (1-15), are meant to rob Fulani herders of their lawful belongings.
“This will cause revolt and security breach of law and order, which the Fulani herders are afraid of. A good example is what is happening in Benue State where the law is in place.
“Part VII of the bill (ESTABLISHMENT OF STAFF, RANCH ADMINISTRATION, and MARSHAL CORPS): Knowing the perennial inter-ethnic and inter-religious crises that engulfed Plateau in the past, and that is currently happening in some parts of the State, some marshals will use the medium to discriminate against the Fulani herders and may cause serious mayhem.”
MACBAN therefore, advised the Plateau State Government to “redirect the resources meant for the project to other developmental programmes that will impact positively on the citizens of the State” and appealed house of assembly to “have a rethink and suspend the bill for the general interest of the State and her citizens.”
Reacting, the Plateau State Government said it was taken aback by the stance of MACBAN as the group was always carried along in all the processes before the submission of the bill.
A rejoinder from the Office of the Executive Governor, signed by the Director General, Research and Documentation, Government House, Prof. John Wakton Wade, observed that the contents of the letter and press released by MACBAN “Appeared to be full of innuendos and contradictions, which should be of concern to the Government, Legislature and general public in the smooth implementation of its policies and programmes on peace, security and harmonious co-existence, infrastructure development and sustainable economic re-birth.
“From the submissions, the following observations are apt: the signatories, particularly the State Chairman, Muhammad Nuru Abubakar has been a stakeholder, part and parcel in contributing to this administration’s policy directive in the implementation of the widely accepted and adopted Ranching Programme;
“that the Bill had not clearly stated the Sponsor(s) yet it was accepted and before the Plateau State House of Assembly for enactment appear sarcastic;
“At different fora, which included one hosted by the Humanitarian Dialogue on 26th – 27th October 2021 at Crispan Suites and Event Center, Rayfield, Jos on the theme: “Roundtable for the Implementation of Peace Agreements and Relevant White Papers in Plateau State” and the latest, Public Hearing on the SLTP Bill on Wednesday, 26th January 2022 the MACBAN Chairman portrayed ignorance and displayed sarcasm on neither being carried along on the Ranching issues nor ever knew anything about the Bill.”
Prof. Wade observed that “in all these instances, we were aware that an Executive Bill was submitted to the House of Assembly, titled “A Bill For A Law To Establish The Plateau State Livestock Transformation Programme (SLTP) And For Other Matters Connected, 2020,” bearing exactly the same title quoted by the Complainants” adding that “these assumptions or deductions are preposterous and unfair to the administrative outfit and lawful agency established with mandate to protect life and property. We must strive to have faith in our system.”
He argued that the bill, which serves the common good, is all-encompassing and a must-read-public-document as it was predicated on six fundamental pillars that includes 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 both the Executive arm as well as relevant stake holders and the general public for public hearing.
“Above all, it is worth noting that the Northern Governors Forum have since unanimously adopted Ranching as a policy throughout Northern Nigeria. The allegations of political or religious bias by any group are therefore baseless.
“We should all strive to be judged through time and history as being on positive side of progress and promoting mutual co-existence,” Wade stressed.
Meanwhile, the Plateau Initiative for Development and Advancement of the Natives (PIDAN) has cautioned stakeholders about their utterances regarding the SLTP.
A statement signed by its President, Prof. Aboi Madaki, and Secretary General, Comrade Nanle Gujor, said ordinarily, PIDAN would not have commented on MACBAN’s submission if it’s statement had been sent to the State House of Assembly as others did but because MACBAN chose to make its statement more public through a press conference/release thus inviting the opinion of the members of the public to its position as regards the draft bill, it was necessary for PIDAN to examine the issues raised by MACBAN’s position and offer suggestions for both MACBAN and other stakeholders who may share similar views with MACBAN.
The statement read in part “First, the issues raised by MACBAN statement, as made available to the public, states among others, that ranching is alien to the livestock and animal husbandry development in the Africa sub-region, it is capital intensive, implementing the bill will jeopardize the nascent peace in the State due to misconceptions of a lot of Fulani herders and the general public, the Fulani livestock is an unrancheable specie and the bill, as presently drafted, is meant to “rob and annihilate the Fulani of their lawful belongings.
“The issue of using alien strategies such as ranching in Nigeria to advance sociology-economic development is not new. The fact that the National Livestock Transformation Program recommends among others ranching of livestock, implies that the Federal Government has seen that ranching is a viable option and that states can mobilize the necessary resources to implement the program.
“The insinuation that the implementation of the bill will jeopardize the nascent peace is not supported by the views of most stakeholders at the public hearing who saw the bill as a strategic approach to curbing the incessant herders-farmers clashes and endorsed it. Some key objectives of the bill are to strengthen the peace on the Plateau through curbing the incessant herders-farmers clashes and boosting economic development of the State. It could be true that many Fulani had misconceptions about the bill, given the perception of MACBAN leadership, however, it is the responsibility of the MACBAN leadership to educate its members, the basis for which MACBAN had received invitations to represent them in all stakeholders’ interactions with Government on the matter.
“The concern by MACBAN that the Fulani livestock specie is unrancheable should not constitute a basis for rejecting the bill but rather present an opportunity for MACBAN to negotiate a system of replacement of the current specie since ranching is a Federal Government recommended strategy which the Plateau State Government bought into and the Federal Government is quite aware of the nature of the specie of cattle owned by peasant Fulani herders in Nigeria given the enriched Fulani background of Mr President.
On the claim by MACBAN that the bill was designed to “rob and annihilate the Fulani of their lawful belonging,” PIDAN replied that it was an “unsubstantiated perception of the MACBAN leadership” and urged the Association to “point out what correction should be effected in the bill to allay their fears in this respect rather than recommending the non-enactment of the bill.”
PIDAN stated that the SLTP bill had taken much time to accommodate different interest groups’ inputs into it, adding that it had huge potentials to contribute to peace as it enjoyed huge support from the stakeholders that attended the 26-01-2022 public hearing and enjoined all individuals and groups to “join the advocacy train to ensure that the bill is finally drafted, accented to and implemented without further delay,” which, according to PIDAN, would “certainly reduce the ongoing losses of lives and property from incessant herders-farmers clashes in Plateau State.”