Prof. Murtala J. Balogun has advised all tiers of government in Nigeria to consider win-win in place of the partisan, zero-sum, solutions to the challenges posed by open grazing.
In a proposal canvassed on the Offa Professors Forum, the former Special Adviser to the President of the United Nations General Assembly noted that his advocacy of a win-win formula is anchored on the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.
Beside guaranteeing each citizen’s right to freedom of movement, he said that the Constitution safeguards every Nigerian’s right to own, dispose of, and defend, his property.
Prof. Balogun, therefore, counsels against politicizing the challenges arising from open grazing and that instead of banning the practice outright, each State Assembly should enact a law which will, among other things: “permit herders to graze their cattle on land that is neither reserved for farming nor set aside for other legitimate purposes; provide for the issuance and biennial renewal of grazing licenses and strictly forbid the carrying of firearms across or close to farmlands and private estates.
He said such laws should also “provide stiff penalties (including jail time, fines, property seizures and impoundments) for encroachments on farmlands and private estates; and for the bearing of fire arms in designated areas;” as well as “authorize the establishment of Land Use Tribunals to handle in an expeditious and fair manner cases involving herders and farmers.”
Prof. Balogun, who was once the Director General of the Adminstrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) also stressed that laws to be enacted should “further authorize the establishment of a Civil Guard whose members will maintain constant surveillance over forests and farmlands” and “anticipate the gradual phasing out of open grazing and its replacement with ranches.”
He noted that to be effective, “the law should not be enacted by executive fiat, but should be drafted in close consultation with the principal stakeholders (e.g., cattle herders’ and farmers’ associations, leaders of farming and herding communities, and security agencies).”
Governors of the states in the southern part Nigeria at their recent meeting in Lagos gave a September 1, 2021 deadline for the enactment of laws banning open grazing in their states.