Treat Herdsmen the Way You Treats Businessmen in Onitsha, Alaba – Senator Abdullahi

Abdullahi Adamu, a senator representing Nasarawa West Senatorial District and a former governor of Nasarawa State, said the government owes it a duty to treat herders in the same manner as other residents.

Abdullahi said the hullabaloo regarding herders in Nigeria was needless, given that they are also Nigerians who should be safeguarded, at a press conference with the Senate Press Corps in Abuja on Monday.

He bemoaned the fact that herders do not benefit from infrastructure such as good roads, electricity, piped water, and so on because of their calling, but that their rights were being stampeded.

According to Abdullahi, the government should provide monies to herders who are conducting legitimate business in the same manner that businessmen around the country have access to funds from the national treasury.

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Abdullahi said: “This government has a duty like the way its treating businessmen in Alaba, Onitsha, Kano, and Port Harcourt to treat herdsmen too because they are Nigerians. These provisions are public funds. They are not from the private fund of any governor or senator. The funds are from the treasury of this country and every Nigerian has a stake in that treasury.

“So the government has a duty to find a wherewithal to make it possible for herdsmen not to go astray in the course of pursuing his legitimate duty.”

Abdullahi, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, voiced concern with how governors are enacting anti-open grazing legislation, claiming that herders’ freedom of movement is being restricted.

While reacting to questions on national issues, he added: “When I read the meeting of southern governors and the issue of open grazing and how they kicked against it and threatened to make law against it. I replied them in a manner that you recalled.

“I believe as governors, as members of the executive, operating in the different tier of government, they have a constitutional responsibility, the constitution upon which they take an oath of office.

“I believe as governors, as members of the executive, operating in the different tier of government, they have a constitutional responsibility, the constitution upon which they take an oath of office.

“One of the fundamental rights there is every Nigerian, no exception. Every Nigerian has a right of free movement. Every Nigerian has a right to pursue a legitimate business. Right of association is enshrined in the constitution. You cannot under any pretence take away these rights.

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“I don’t know under any condition which government can say, yes, we can take away this right. When they came up with this, I was wondering. First and foremost, a week earlier before the meeting the governors had here in Abuja and there was no such announcement like that. I was taken aback when I read about their meeting in Asaba.”

Responding to questions that anti-grazing law was gaining traction in the North, he said: “I still stand by that. The fact that one or two governors in the North have said something like that does not take away the right of herdsmen.

“The question here is nature has closed vacuum. You can’t build something on nothing. The duty to protect herdsmen and farmers rest squarely on the national government, State Government and the Local government administration.

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“The question here is, has the government done what it is supposed to do to protect Nigerians who are in that calling, in that profession and in that trade? The answer is no and you cannot blame the person who is desperately looking for means of livelihood.

“However, this does not excuse somebody who is pursuing his right from doing harm to somebody’s right. I must be very clear on this, a farmer has right to farm, if you dare carry your cattle and and damage his farm crops, he has right to make claims in the Court of law. That’s the law as I understand it.

“So, it doesn’t matter. If the whole Northern governors make the same pronouncement that the Southern governors did, that doesn’t shake my fundamental position on this. Government owes herdsmen a duty to protect their calling and I dare repeat that if you go to Wuse Market here, you will see how many infrastructure have been provided by the FCT and Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) like water, and electricity. These are for Nigerians. These herdsmen are Nigerians.”

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