By Nwaochu Ezechime

When Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State took the bold step to sponsor an executive bill to the State House of Assembly to deliberate on Anti Open Grazing Bill in the state in 2016, many Nigerians did not take him serious.

Opinions were divided as to why he did it and what would be the long run effect, especially in regards to the relationship between Ekiti people and the Hausa/Fulani Community in the state.

Some political opponents of the governor even went ahead to label him, enemy of the Northern oligarchy and an anti-North.

But against all odds, the governor had his way and today, we hardly hear of Farmers
/Herdsmen clash in Etiki state.

Just recently, Benue State, one of the immediate neighbors of Enugu State also brazed the trail when the State House of Assembly went ahead to enact law against open grazing bill in the state with effect from November 1, 2017.

Close to the commencement of the ban on open grazing bill in the state, there were lots of solidarity protests in Makurdi, the state capital in support of the law by citizens of the state.

The level of acceptance of this law in the state was so massive, except for pockets of mumblings from some sections of Miyeti Allah who pleaded for more time to be given to them, but the government remained adamant.

The successes of anti open grazing law in the two states might have spurred Taraba state to move for the same law and in fact report has it that, the governor, Darius Ishaku has made it a top priority for his administration and in no distant time, the state will join the league of states with anti open grazing law.

It is pertinent to note that, the movement of herdsmen has always been from North down to South and in most cases, Enugu State is at the risk of becoming their first point of call, especially in the northern fringes of the state.

Historically, the state has had robust relationship with the herdsmen.They had lived together in such places including Obollo Eke, Ikem, Umuitodo, Ehamufu, Enugu-Ezike and Neke among others.

In virtually all the Communities in the northern part of the state herdsmen have lived and interacted with the natives with minimal clashes, until in 2016 when the hell was let loose at Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area.

Apart from the Nimbo episode, there had been some reported cases of herdsmen/farmers clashes in some local government areas in the state outside Nsukka area which had led to deaths of innocent persons. This has made it imperative that, the anti open grazing law in Enugu state is not only necessary by very apt.

Going by the strategic location of Enugu State and the agrarian nature of the people, it will not be out of place if the state moves for anti open grazing law as it is presently what is in vogue. It is better to follow the trend across the country now rather than playing the good
boy state.

It may be counterproductive to think of saving the inevitable for the future, because doing so may not attract the same sympathy unlike what is happening now that everybody is doing the same.

A stitch in time, they say saves nine. Taraba and Benue States have the largest grazing
land for herdsmen in the country and if the later succeeds in passing the anti grazing bill into law and the law becomes effective, Enugu State will definitely witness a spiral increase of herdsmen menace.

A statement by a member of Miyetti Allah in Benue State in Punch Newspaper of November 12 2017, who stated that herdsmen were already feeling the heat of the anti-open grazing law in Benue and that they were looking elsewhere for greener pastures, should be a big reference point.

Although the people have remained silent, the current prevailing silence does not mean that there are no musings and unproven fear by the people. The silence may one day be broken with tears and wailing (Nimbo should not be forgotten in a hurry) and the authorities will continue to cry foul. It is better to be proactive than to be reactive.

Nwaochu Ezechime writes from Ehalumona.

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