Benue governor, Samuel Ortom, wants the incoming National Assembly to pass a National Open Grazing Prohibition Bill and a Ranches Establishment Bill. Speaking at a public lecture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the governor suggested those laws as a way to stop the attacks by herdsmen.
Ortom said recommendations to open the cattle routes of the 1950s are not feasible because development has happened since that time and infrastructure like schools, airports, hospitals, among others, have now been built on those routes.
- Nomadic pastoralism, according to the governor, is not an activity suited for this century.
Ortom and Buhari on opposite ends: The anti-grazing bill being proposed by the governor is not popular with President Muhammadu Buhari and members of his security team which comprises mostly of Fulanis.
Two other issues raised by the governor during his lecture –
The herdsmen crisis is not a Benue problem alone: “Those who think that the problem of herdsmen is only that of the Benue Valley and Middle-Belt states should watch out. It was first with Plateau State and southern Kaduna and then Taraba, Adamawa, Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa, Delta, Cross River, Ekiti Ebonyi, Enugu, Zamfara, Katsina, Rivers, Ogun, Ondo and other states. It is spreading, and soon it will become an obvious national social and economic problem too difficult to contain,” Ortom said.
On the failure of the police to rescue victims of herdsmen attacks, Ortom said: “I have learnt another lesson! The current Nigeria police are not really Nigeria police but the police of some people in power at the centre. I have had a lot of experience with many police commissioners as well as police officers sent to Benue State for assignments. All I can say is that we need state and local police at the local council areas beside the federal police; and not as a ‘police force’ but a ‘police service’.”