From Fred Itua, Abuja
The senate, yesterday, urged the 36 governors to implement the 2018 Federal Government’s National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) in a bid to curb the conflict between farmers and herders across the country.
This is as the senators expressed divergent views on activities of herdsmen and other criminal elements in the country.
The lawmakers, who took their turns to speak on a motion sponsored by Ajayi Boroffice and co-sponsored by 105 others, said leaders could no longer continue to pretend as if all was well.
The Senate had scheduled the Bill for debate on Tuesday, but stepped it down, following the death of a member of the House of Representatives, Ossy Prestige.
During the debate which lasted for almost three hours, some lawmakers said the nationwide attacks were carried out by Fulani herdsmen from neighbouring countries.
A former governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Adamu, accused Ondo State Government of ordering Nigerians from other parts of the country to vacate the State
“We’re mixing up issues. I find it hard to believe that in the 21st century, a governor will ask people who are not from the state to leave. We need to find out these allegations of killings or otherwise,” he claimed.
His claims were rebuffed by the Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe. He said those who were ordered to leave Ondo State were criminals and not citizens doing legitimate businesses.
Abaribe, who warned against misleading information, said practical solutions must be worked out and the criminals flushed out wherever they were hiding in any part of the country.
Abaribe said: “But we need to clear certain things. I want to address the issue of whether people were sent away. Nigerians were not sent away. Criminals were sent away. We shouldn’t send out the wrong message. The IGP has said that these criminals aren’t from Nigeria. If we want to find solutions, let’s do that. Those criminal elements from anywhere they’re coming from must be flushed out.”
Senate committee chairman on Army, Mohammed Ali Ndume, urged the Senate to set up an ad-hoc committee and involve experts during the public hearing. He said this will bring a lasting solution.
He said: “We should take responsibility as leaders. We are in government. We are part of the government. These people are criminals. They don’t settle in one place. We can set up an ad-hoc committee to look at all the issues raised,” he said.
Former minority leader, Biodun Olujimi, wondered why a national emergency was declared at the peak of COVID-19 but the government has not deemed it fit to declare a national security emergency.
He said: “We are all in denial. Otherwise, we would have declared it a national emergency. Right now, Nigerians are endangered species. We have spoken and nothing is being done. We must do something. Posterity will not forgive us if we do nothing.”
A lawmaker from Adamawa State, Binos Yero, said Nigerians of Fulani extraction were being encouraged to roam the country freely unchallenged. He said it must stop.
This must stop,” he said.
Tolu Odebiyi from Ogun State, said Nigeria was at the precipice of a civil war. He said President Muhammadu Buhari can sign an executive order and ban open grazing in the country.
He said: “I visited a border community in my place and herdsmen had destroyed their sources of livelihood. They burnt their houses and we are talking about confirming former service chiefs who couldn’t fix our security challenges. What are we doing?”
Smart Adeyemi from Kogi State said: “Whenever we talk about insecurity, there’s an international conspiracy. If things are getting out of hand, there’s nothing wrong if the president asks for foreign support. There’s need for an international support. We don’t need N500 billion on purchase of drugs for COVID-19. We should spend that on insecurity.”
Suleiman Kyari from Kaduna State said: “This country has sunk to a level where it it seen as a failed country. Service Chiefs must address the morale of their troops. We should coordinate security intelligence. That has been failing.”
Deputy Senate Whip, Abdullahi Sabi said: “Niger State has joined the league of states that are daily attacked by bandits. Two local government councils stand out. There were several attacks and people were killed. We are definitely facing the heat.”
Michael Opeyemi Bamidele from Ekiti State, said: “Section 43 of our Constitution grants every Nigerian the right to live in any part of the country. This is different from land ownership. Even if I have the right to live in any part of Nigeria, I don’t have the right to trespass on the property of others. Governors must be able to take charge of their domains. Criminals must be arrested. Let no one be afraid of being called a tribalist.”
At the end of the long debate, the Senate endorsed NLTP and also called on the 36 State governors to adopt the plan to prevent farmer-herder conflicts.
The lawmakers also resolved to urge the president to direct the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the newly nominated service chiefs to overhaul the country’s security architecture.
It also urged the security agencies to monitor the country’s forests and combat the proliferation of small and light arms into the country.