Nigerian government seeks legislation to check invading herdsmen

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe has called for adequate legislation that will protect Nigerians from invading herdsmen seeking greener pastures in some parts of Nigeria.

Chief Ogbe made the call while making a presentation at a one day public hearing organised by the Senate on three Bills that promote Agricultural development in the country.

He said the Nigerian government was devising new measures on how to check the influx of herdsmen from neighbouring African countries, noting that a decision would soon be taken on how best to provide veterinary services, grass and water for Nigerian cattle.

The agric Minister commended the legislators for initiating the Bills which he said would go a long way in helping Nigeria to strengthen its quarantine services to boost the quality and standard of agricultural commodities produced in the country.

 “Now, we have specific fertilizers for specific crops in specific states suited to the soil, and this research has been concluded by our ministry, headed by Professor Chude and his team who have gone very far in this business. It is not enough to just send NPK-15-15-15 to Cross River state because, there is already enough phosphate in the soil and additional phosphate will only destroy the soil and compromise your capacity to harvest food crops.”  

President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki who declared the public hearing open, said the Bills could not have being initiated at a better time than now that the Nigerian government is repositioning the agricultural sector, to ensure self sufficiency in food production.

Senator Saraki expressed optimism that, when the Bills become law, they would surely boost the confidence of investors and Nigerian farmers alike in the sustainability of government policies in the agric sector.

 “The danger has always been that investors always worry about summersault of policies, and the policies that are not long standing enough to give confidence in that sector. That is why it is important, the efforts being done by the agric committee of the Senate to ensure that we have the right laws that would create the enabling environment for us to improve our agricultural sector.”     

The three Bills upon which the public hearing was organised are, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service Bill, Food Security Bill, and the Bill on the establishment of the Nigerian Institute of Soil Science Research.

The Food Security Bill seeks to make provision for freedom from hunger, create basic rights to access to quality, affordable and nutritious food for all Nigerians. The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service Bill has the objective of preventing the introduction, establishment and spread of pests and diseases on plants, animals and aquatic resources in Nigeria.

It is also intended to help in controlling regional and international movements of animals in order to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases among other things that are detrimental to food production.

The Bill seeks to prescribe and regulate the standards of academic qualifications and practical skills to be attained by persons seeking to become registered members, associates, and fellows of the Institute. By establishing this Institute, the Bill also seeks to regulate the practice of the profession of soil scientists, and promote research in the field of soil science.