A bill aiming to establish ranches and prohibit open grazing across Nigeria has passed its second reading in the Senate after a heated debate on Wednesday.

The proposed legislation, championed by Senator Titus Zam representing Benue North-west, seeks to create the National Animal Husbandry and Ranches Commission. This body would regulate, manage, and control ranches throughout the country.

Nigeria has long been plagued by clashes between farmers and herders, a conflict that this bill aims to address. Senator Zam argued that banning open grazing and establishing ranches would significantly reduce these conflicts, especially in states with significant pastoralist communities.

However, the bill faced opposition from several northern senators. Senator Danjuma Goje of Gombe Central contended that ranches should not be confined to states with herder populations alone. He argued, “We should be magnanimous enough not to confine them.

That will not solve the problem. These people are Nigerians and don’t benefit from anything, they don’t benefit from school, hospitals, or anything.”

Senator Kawu Sumaila of Kano Central also opposed the bill, suggesting that the root causes of farmer-herder clashes have not been adequately addressed.

He stated, “Let us come up with something more comprehensive that protects the interest of all parties. There are so many reasons why herders go against farmers that we should look at. It is against the constitution, and we will fight it to the end.”

In support of the bill, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe of Abia South emphasized the threat to farmers and the consequent food insecurity in Nigeria. “This is the reason Nigeria is facing food insecurity,” Abaribe noted.

Deputy Senate President Barau Jibrin recommended that the bill be stepped down for further consultation, but Senator Zam declined to move a motion to that effect. Ultimately, the bill was put to a vote, with the majority voting in favor.

The bill has been referred to the committees on agriculture, trade and investment, judiciary, and legal matters. These committees are expected to report back to the Senate within a month.



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