Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo, has explained why the anti-open grazing law is yet to be enacted in his state.
The governor said there is no value in having a law that cannot be enforced and implemented.
Governors of the southern states held a meeting in Asaba, Delta state capital, in May 2021, where they resolved to ban the open grazing of cattle.
At a subsequent meeting held in Lagos in June, the governors set a deadline of September 1 for the promulgation of the law.
Lagos, Rivers, Ondo, Enugu, Delta, and Akwa Ibom are among the eleven southern states that have enacted the law.
Speaking at a stakeholders town hall meeting in Benin, Edo state capital, on Monday, Obaseki said it is important to first address the root of the acrimony between herders and host communities.
The governor said the country’s leaders must not “play politics” with the issue, adding that they must deal with it “honestly and openly”.
He said: “We are one of the few states that have not signed the bill into law, and the reason is simple. To sign a law is very simple, it doesn’t make sense to put out a law you cannot enforce.
“The best way of enforcing a law is to bring everybody together to be part of that law. We have a crisis in our country, it is deeply rooted, there are different causes why these are happening, let us go to the root of the causes and resolve it from there.
“People have said that we have lived a hundred years together in harmony before now, why are we now having this problem today.
“If we don’t go to the reason why, then we will be scratching the surface. Let us start by understanding why we are having this challenge. To sign a law is very easy, it doesn’t make sense to put out a law that you cannot enforce.
“The anti-grazing law in my view is to deal with some perception. I just want to tell you that this is not an issue between Christians and Muslims, it is not an issue between north and south, it is not an issue between Edo people and Fulani people.
“As long as we have decided that we will eat meats and drink milk, we will now have to sit down and rearrange the business on how we will get the people who are producing the meat on how they must organise themselves.
“Let us not play politics with this issue, let us deal with this issue honestly and openly. There are security implications because some people have now joined and using these herders to perpetrate insecurity.”
The governor said there are cattle herders who are carrying out legitimate businesses, hence it is important to identify the criminals.