The leadership of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MCBAN), South-East Zone, says herdsmen are leaving Nigeria in droves to neighbouring countries as a result of promulgation of anti-open grazing laws in some states.
The South-East zonal Chairman of the association, Gidado Siddiki, who disclosed this to journalists in Awka, the Anambra State capital, on Sunday, said the group will meet with governors of the South-East zone to prevent them from enforcing the anti-open grazing law.
The group said that during the meeting, it would inform the governors why the anti-open grazing policy would not be of benefit to the region.
He said the purpose of the meeting is to appeal to the governors to reverse the law for the sake of the less privileged.
Siddik noted that within the short period of the ban, prices of cows had jumped up and such would prevent the poor ones from eating cow meat again.
According to him, “a cow that was sold for N80,000 before the law, is now sold for N300,000 and that is the implication of the anti-open grazing law.
“If they are asking the cattle breeders to stop moving around with their cows, it means indirectly that they are asking us to leave their land and that we are not Nigerians.
“Because of the Law, a lot of herders have relocated to other countries like; Lake Chad, Cameron, Sierra Leone and they have vowed not to import their cows to Nigeria again.
“I believe, governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano; governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state, who have already enacted the law and their Imo State counterpart, Senator Hope Uzodinma, are definitely going to listen to us because of the love they have for their people.
“I don’t think the ban on open grazing is necessary in the South-East Zone, because 80 percent of our members have embraced the modern way of grazing through our continued sensitisation programmes, including the cow identification workshop recently held in Enugu State, where every cow, owner and their boys will be first captured digitally before being allowed to operate in their choice areas.
“It is also not necessary in the region, because the Igbos know the consequences of one losing means of livelihood. By God grace, the governors will consider our corporative request,” Saddikki prayed.
He explained that for the past 50 years, MACBAN members had had a good relationship with the indigenous people of the area in spite of “some isolated cases of misunderstanding.”
The Miyetti Allah chairman said their interests in the area was purely economic, adding that no herder was interested in contesting the ownership of the land with members of their host communities.
He, however, added that much is still needed to be done to ensure that law-abiding citizens, including herders were free to carry out their businesses without hindrances.
“We are ready to support the authorities to go after criminals and rid the forests and cities of such bad elements in order to make life better for everyone, and not to prevent us from moving around with our cattle,” Sadikki pledged.