The Presidency has expressed reservation over the position of Southern Governors’ Forum on open grazing, saying their decision to ban open grazing in their states is of questionable legality.
Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, in a statement on Monday in Abuja, observed that the governors’ anti-open grazing stance contradicted the constitutional right of all Nigerians to enjoy freedom of movements irrespective of the state of their birth or residence.
He said banning of open grazing by the governors was unnecessary in view of the fact that the president had since approved a number of specific measures to bring a permanent end to the frequent skirmishes between herders and farmers across the country.
The presidential aide said the approved measures were recommended by the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, in a report he submitted and the president signed off on it back in April.
Shehu said: “It is equally true that their announcement (Southern Governors) is of questionable legality, given the Constitutional right of all Nigerians to enjoy the same rights and freedoms within every one of our 36 states (and FCT) -regardless of the state of their birth or residence.
“Fortunately, this declaration has been preempted, for whatever it is intended to achieve.
“Mr President, who has rightly been worried about these problems more than any other citizen in consultation with farmers and herders alike, commissioned and approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves in the states, starting with those that are truly committed to the solution and compliant with stated requirements.
“With veterinary clinics, water points for animals, and facilities for herders and their families including schooling.
“Through these rehabilitated reserves, the Federal Government is making far-reaching and practical changes allowing for different communities to co-exist side-by-side: supporting farmers to till their fields, herders to rear their livestock and Nigerians everywhere to be safe.’’
The presidential spokesman announced that the work for the full actualisation of the modern reserve system in a few of the consenting states should take off in June.
“The entire country is acutely aware of the strain the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on public finances, for both Federal and States.
“Still, given the pressing urgency of addressing the perennial challenges, the federal funding for the project that has been delayed is now being partly unlocked.
“Actual work for the full actualisation of the modern reserve system in a few of the consenting states should take off in June,’’ he added.