Following the controversy and tension raised by the Ekiti grazing law and its implementation, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and leaders of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), the umbrella body of cattle rearers in the country, have met in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital.
The meeting was meant to iron out the grey areas in the enforcement of the grazing law in the state, especially the tension raised by the inauguration of Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshals (EGEM) last month.
This is just as the governor said he was not against the interest of Fulani people or any other ethnic group in the country.
The meeting, which took place at the Government House, had Ekiti State executive of MACBAN and representatives from across the local governments in the state in attendance.
The governor expressed happiness that the leaders of MACBAN decided to contact the state government instead of listening to rumours being peddled around by the opposition.
“I have nothing against you or any other ethnic group. Nobody should bring politics into this matter. If a Yoruba person destroys your property I will defend you too. Leaders are not supposed to discriminate and as a leader, I don’t discriminate. The law of the land is not against anybody who obeys it but those who flout it. It is people destroying other people’s farms that are causing this problem.
“We have given lands to people to farm and they have paid; some for many years to use the lands and when somebody now comes and destroys their means of livelihood and make them suffer losses, we won’t allow that. It is the bad people that make others suffer. If anybody says Fayose is after Hausa or Fulani people, that person has no sense. During my first term, I appointed a man from Malunfashi as a Special Adviser. This term too, I appointed Musa Kanga into the Pilgrims Welfare Board.
“In Oke Ako-Ekiti last May, two persons were killed, people’s wives raped by those hiding under the guise of rearing cattle. I have 83 cows too and I have told the person taking care of them that if he goes against the law and any of them is seized, he will be responsible for that,” he said.
Governor Fayose also emphasized not leading cows along major roads and city centres, saying this has caused fatal vehicular accidents in the past.
“If you have not been to London or America, I guess some of you have been to Mecca. Did you see cattle breeders leading their cattle across city centres and major roads, with the cows defecating everywhere? This is not done and it is not that the people in those places don’t have cows they breed too,” he stressed.
On the claim that marshals appointed to enforce the Anti-Grazing Law were shooting cows, the governor said it was untrue, adding that the marshals were not armed.
On the demand by the MACBAN leaders that they be part of the patrol teams to enforce the law, the governor acceded and commended their effort to support his administration in getting rid of bad eggs among the cattle breeders.
Governor Fayose also said a meeting of community leaders, government officials, MACBAN members and security agents would hold later in the week for further deliberations.
The Ekiti State MACBAN chairman, Alhaji Muhammad Nasamu, commended the governor for his frankness and openness.
He noted that the meeting had disabused the minds of his members about wrong information being circulated by some people about the governor and the state government.
“Seeing you face to face and hearing from you has quelled all the strange stories we are hearing. Leaders from across the federation have been calling me saying ‘where are you?’ and that they have been hearing funny stories from the state, but now we know the truth. Ekiti is my home and anybody who spoils the name of Ekiti is spoiling my name.
“Today we have met. We are suggesting that farmers and Fulani rearers be part of the marshals who will patrol across the state. When that is done, there will no longer be any trouble. Those in the office don’t know what is happening in the bush and we will try and bridge the communication gap,” he stated.
The Ekiti MACBAN Secretary, Alhaji Zaiyanu Mohammed, said his members were also not in support of cows destroying people’s means of livelihood.
He added that being part of the patrol teams, his members would be able to detect herdsmen with ulterior motives.
“Some cattle rearers passing through the state may want to perpetrate criminal acts, but our members, when they are part of the patrol teams, would be able to communicate with them and detect such people. When their vehicles are stopped, we will ask for their identity and anywhere they claim to come from, we have phone numbers of MACBAN leaders across the country and anyone not identified as our member by MACBAN leaders from wherever he claims to come from would turned back or handed over to security agents,” he said.
Mohammed lauded Governor Fayose for proving critics wrong by giving his members audience and showing willingness to let them conduct their business in peaceful atmosphere.