By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The senate yesterday disagreed with the federal government on the planned establishment of a national bureau to carryout identification and management of cattle, goats and sheep as a measure to forestall cattle rustling and conflict between herders and farmers across the country.
This followed the public hearing organized yesterday by the senate committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, on a Bill seeking to establish National Animal Identification and Management Bureau for the purpose of animal traceability, registration and identification.
Making his objection to the proposed agency known to the Senate committee yesterday, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, argued that already, there is an department in the ministry which is already saddled with such responsibility.
He pointed out that creating the agency would throw the staff of the ministry out of job, hence the minister contented that the agency will be a duplication of the functions of government.
However, the Sponsor of Bill, Abu Ibrahim, said the ministry has failed to address the content of the Bill, adding that from all indication, the ministry has no clear cut direction in tackling and bringing to an end, the perennial
issues of cattle rustling, as well as farmers and herders conflict which he said has assumed a threatening dimension in recent time.
While pointing out that the ministry of agriculture last held a conference on curbing farmers, herders clash, as well as cattle rustling in 2009, the senator said there has been lingering rustling of cattle, herders, farmers clash, to which the ministry has not taken any action to contain.
Explaining the importance of the Bill, Senator Abu Ibrahim said with the Bill, cattle can be traced, adding that the bureau will solve a lot of security questions in the Nigerian meat industry.
While pointing out that Nigeria has the largest population of cattle compare to other countries of Africa, the lawmaker lamented that yet the business of livestock is still localized only within Nigeria because the Bureau is not yet in existence.
Explaining the need for the Bureau, the lawmaker said, the nation has been denied of gross earnings, since it could not export meat to other countries for lack of meeting international standard.
He lamented that Nigeria has not keyed into the Pretoria declaration two years after, hence, there was no proper recordings, identification and management of animals in Nigeria.
‘In April 2015, Sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria adopted a declaration in Pretoria, South Africa, on animal identification and recording”, he said.
He stoutly canvassed that animal related responsibilities be severed from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for it to function effectively. According to him, the bureau would effectively tackle cattle rustling and check the menace of herdsmen/farmers clashes.
He explained that animal livestock could easily be identified, the location, and breed known, adding that they will also be traced for purposes of disease surveillance.
“The challenge of herdsmen and farmers clashes would have been taken care of with the propose bureau. It also means that ownerships, location, breed and other information on animal would have been available for easy tracking if there is animal disease”, he added.
While regretting that the ministry is only concerned about themselves and how to preserve bureaucracy, he said warned that states are now making laws against open grazing, saying that the agency and the Bill could not have come at any better time than now. “If cattle are rustled, the owner can be traced through the microchip that is planted in their body. Stolen cattle can equally be recovered”, he said.
Meanwhile, the senator said the law is currently in existence in countries like Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and Djibouti, which he said have less cattle than Nigeria.