Edo elders: Obaseki’s strategy on anti-open grazing bill will make the law enforceable

The strategic leadership style of Governor Godwin Obaseki on anti open grazing bill has continued to distinguish him among other governors within the South-South region.

Speaking on the delay in signing the bill into law,
an elder and opinion leader in the state, Chief Godspower Eguasa, said in Benin: “The governor, once again, proved this outstanding leadership capacity during the Stakeholders’ town hall meeting organised by the state government to deliberate on the proposed anti-open grazing law currently facing the state before a final decision is reached.

“The issue of the passage of the anti-open grazing bill into law to restrict herders and cattle rearers from using open grazing as a means of rearing their cattle is not new as about 10 of the 17 States within the South-South region, including Ekiti, Lagos, Enugu, Osun and Ondo States have flawlessly passed the bill into law.
“Our governor, during the town hall meeting held in Benin at Imaguero Centre, stated that the delay in signing the anti-open grazing bill follows the need to craft an implementable law that will put an end to the growing security and economic challenges in the State”.

“Some residents of the state, who have always trusted the integrity of the governor, believe that his decision emanates from the following key factors:
*The need for proper planning before implementation.
*Good planning lays the foundation for the successful execution of any project as it helps to create a blueprint that can be followed for the successful implementation of any strategy”. 

Eguasa also disclosed that the governor believes in a holistic approach to end farmers/herders’ clash.
“While some residents of the state are clamouring for the immediate passage of the bill into law, we must never forget that cattle business in Edo State is not only limited to northern indigenes. There are also indigenous people of the state who are into the cattle business, such as butchers, beef sellers, beef consumers, abattoir operators, and there is a need to consider them before signing the bill into law duly.

“We must never forget that the challenge of insecurity in the state triggered the current issues of the proposed anti-open grazing law and should not be politicized.
“Hence, while addressing the issues of the passage of the bill, the Edo State Government has adopted a strategic approach involving all affected key stakeholders for deliberation to ensure proper care is taken not to infringe on the livelihood of others, and common ground reached that will be of advantage to all affected persons. The governor should be commended for this”.
Also, Chief Alfred Osahon, commended the governor for listening to all stakeholders before signing the bill into law.
Osahon said: “Democracy is a system of government where the people are involved in the decision-making process of governance. Therefore, the need to engage relevant stakeholders in policymaking cannot be overemphasized, and Governor Godwin Obaseki exemplifies this on the ongoing anti-open grazing bill situation in the State.

“The anti-open grazing bill is simply a proposed law that bestows authorities in a state the right to take disciplinary actions against persons found grazing their cattle on open fields.

“The bill was presented to curb the alleged killing of farmers and destruction of farmlands by herdsmen. Even though news about the ban on open grazing has been circulating since May 2021, the Southern Governors’ Forum met in Lagos State on July 5, 2021, to discuss and set a deadline for the bill’s signing for September 1st 2021.

“In the meeting, they discussed the reason for the ban and solicited the federal government’s support in developing alternative livestock management systems. “Moving forward, at least 10 of the 17 southern states, including Ekiti, Lagos, Enugu, Osun and Ondo states by October 14, 2021 signed the bill, and Edo State is one of the few states that haven’t signed the bill.

“The bill is a welcomed one, and Governor Obaseki’s mode of comprehensive consultation with relevant stakeholders in Edo state is a testament to his administration’s democratic, accessible, and transparent nature. On Monday, October 11, the governor held a stakeholders’ engagement meeting with critical stakeholders to discuss the best way forward as he stated that his administration would not rely on needless arguments by some individuals who were intolerant of herders to put up a law that would be difficult to implement in the state, hence the need to brainstorm.

“This strategy by the governor will make the law enforceable as it will be a collective decision which will, in turn, eliminate any crisis that might arise subsequently, as is seen in cases of other states that, though the bill has been passed, making the law active is posing a problem because there was no meeting of the mind amongst relevant stakeholder. 

“The governor has also taken it further by soliciting funds from the federal government to make the bill come alive and not be “just a piece of paper” by building structures and putting modalities in place for the bill to favour the good people of Edo State”.