The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association has warned that if the Lagos State Government approves the proposed anti-open grazing law, the cost of a cow may rise to N2 million.
The association’s zonal secretary for the South-West,Maikudi Usman, made the revelation during a one-day public hearing on the anti-open grazing law hosted by the state House of Assembly on Wednesday.
Mr. Usman said ranching, as being proposed by the government, was capital intensive and his members could not afford it.
“If cattle are bred in one place, the price could go up to about two million naira each. We agreed with some local chiefs in other states that anyone who wants to rear cows in a location should register and should indicate when he is leaving,” he disclosed.
The Miyetti Allah leader went on to argue that moving cattle from one location to another was the greatest way to breed them, claiming that they were transferred to different locations during the rainy and dry seasons.
Making further excuses, Mr. Usman pleaded with the government for more time to enlighten herdsmen on breeding cattle in one place rather than encroaching on farmlands.
“We are pleading with the Lagos State government to give us more time to go tell our people and train them how they will be breeding cattle in one place and not encroach on farmers’ land,” he said.
Mr. Usman further urged the state government to subsidised the cost of raising the animals in one location.
He detached his group from criminal herdsmen that have been destroying people’s farm among other criminal activities such as armed robbery and kidnapping.
“A Fulani man moves from one place to another to ply his trade, but we have some bad eggs that are fomenting trouble.
The government should allow us to tell our people that they don’t want our cows to destroy people’s farmlands,” he pleaded.
“We have met with stakeholders in Ekiti, Ondo and even Oyo States and we reached agreements with them.”
In his own remarks the president of the Lagos State Sheep Farmers Association, Mustapha Ibrahim, said that the bill was not meant to attack anybody, but that it was all-embracing.
Mr. Ibrahim emphasised the importance of land resources to the state, stating that the connection between cattle herders and farmers should be mutually beneficial.
He also called for legislation to promote the creation of farm estates across the state.
Alabi Kazeem, chairman of the Lagos State Butchers Association, also encouraged the assembly to support cattle breeders, claiming that keeping cattle in one spot might be costly.
Earlier, the Lagos Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, in his keynote address, said it was important to address the issue of cattle rearing, which could affect security of lives because it was a pointer to peaceful co-existence and other human desires.
Mr. Obasa, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, said that the issue of cattle rearing and open grazing called for concerted efforts for stability and economic development.
In his welcome address, Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Kehinde Joseph, said the proposed law was meant to ensure peace between herders and farmers in the state.
Mr. Joseph said it was meant to ensure the registration of herders and prohibit cattle roaming and imposes stiffer punishment on those who carry arms to rear cattle.
“It will forestall herders-farmers clashes and redefine social and economic activities in the state.
“Members of cattle breeders association will be sensitised on the new development and we will ensure strict compliance with the law, when it is passed,” he said.
Over the years, criminal invasion of farmlands by herders has resulted in deadly clashes around the country.
Governors from southern Nigeria have pushed for an outright ban on open grazing in the region in recent months, setting a deadline for the passage of supporting legislation.
Fulani herdsmen have been accused of perpetrating criminal activities such as rape, kidnapping, destruction of farms etc. in forests and highways in the country, especially the South.
The bill was entitled: “A bill for a law to Prohibit Open Cattle Grazing In Lagos State, the Trespass of Cattle Land And For Other Connected Purposes”.