Prof Israel Okoye, Bishop of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, has cautioned that the Federal Government’s persistence on supporting open grazing may lead to food shortages in Nigeria.
Okoye, a professor of Political Science at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, revealed this in a presidential charge read during the second session of the fourth synod of the Diocese of Ihiala on Saturday.
The former academic, who read a lengthy accusation, stated that the debate over open grazing in Nigeria had become an unpleasant distraction from some fundamental concerns such as the economy, education, justice, equity, and leadership that needed to be addressed.
“Although cattle rearing is an important component of animal husbandry, its politicization and seeming treatment as a national obligation has sparked opposition and discontent,” he said.
“It is incorrect to believe that the Nigerian constitution grants cattle the right to travel freely along Nigerian highways and neighborhoods.
Another mistaken belief is that the federal government supports cow ranching, and that herders must be permitted to travel across the country with their cattle as a guarantee of peace.
“Armed cattle herders now roam with their herds to any location of their choosing, seize forests without the permission of the government in charge, and graze their cattle in people’s farms, where they kill, maim, and rape women with impunity.”
“The widely held federal government’s dragging feet in arresting the rapidly expanding heinous crimes of the armed Fulani herders generated ill feelings among the affected populace.”
Okoye stated that if this continues, it will impede Nigerian farmers’ productivity and lead to food shortages, while also regretting that the acts of the Fulani herdsmen have completely tarnished the reputation of the Fulani people.
“Farmers in various parts of Nigeria are unable to go to work today.”
If this trend continues, Nigeria faces a food deficit, which could lead to hunger.”
He encouraged the federal government to act immediately to address the threat, as well as to reassure rural residents throughout the country that their safety is as important as the Fulani’s.
Okoye also tasked the seven Southern governors with keeping their pledge to get the anti-open grazing law passed, reminding them that as chief security officers of their respective states, they owed their people the obligation of protecting them at all times.
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