With barely six weeks to the September 1 deadline set by the Southern governor’s forum that met-in Lagos recently with a resolution to ban open grazing in the southern states and with the serial absence of the Imo state governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma from the meeting,there are doubts in Imo state and elsewhere whether the governors resolution on the Ban will be implemented in the state as neither the executive arm nor the legislature assembly has moved any motion or passed a bill to effect the resolution aimed at curbing farmer/ herder clashes or herders menace in the Southern South states, an issue that has a thorn in the flesh of citizens of the Southern states who are majorly crop farmers.
It will be recalled that when the South East governors met in Enugu over the spate of insecurity in the South East and resolved to establish a security outfit code named “Ebube Agu”, the governor was absent and at the inaugural meeting of Southern governors forum at Asaba, Delta state Senator Uzodinma was not there, neither, was he at the meeting in Lagos where the resolution was taken.
He was always represented by his deputy, Prof Placid Njoku. Two days ago in answer to a question while speaking to newsmen after a meeting with President Buhari, the governor declared that “there is no law forbidding open grazing by cattle rearers in Imo state” adding that there is presently no anti-grazing law in the state.His government is trying to regulate grazing activities through collaboration between farmers and herders.”
This seems to run contrary to the agreement of the 17 governors at their meeting in Lagos on July 5 where they urged states in the region to ensure that legislation against open grazing of cattle was put in place on or before September 1, 2021.
Following the governors’ resolution, Delta, Osun, Ondo, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, and Enugu state governments had moved to enact anti-open grazing laws. But before the resolution of the governors, the anti-open grazing law was already operational in Ogun, Abia, Oyo, Ekiti, and Ebonyi states.
But in sharp contrast with the agreement reached by the southern governors, Uzodimma said: “I don’t have any law in Imo State for anti-grazing. But what we have done is that we are regulating grazing activities in Imo State under a partnership between our farmers and herders. They have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in my office and agreed to work together. And both parties are going about their businesses without interfering or causing any grievance or anger to each other.”
There are serious doubts in the public domain as to what the Imo state government is up to with regard to the Southern governor’s resolution to Ban Open cattle grazing in the region by September.
When our reporter contacted the deputy governor through his media aide he said he was not in a position to react to the question immediately but promised to get back to our reporter.