Gov Ayade of Cross River won't join southern governors to ban open grazing

The governor says banning open grazing of cattle is draconian.

President Muhammadu Buhari with Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade [Presidency]

Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State considers the anti-open grazing legislations that have been enacted in most southern states, "illegitimate" and "draconian."

And he is keen on taking a different approach, he says, because open grazing of cattle is "a profession, it's a business, it's a fundamental right of people to continue to do business."

Most of the governors who attended or sent representatives to what is now called the Asaba Declaration, have enacted legislations that criminalize open grazing of cattle.

Ayade says even though he is a conformist and belongs in the southern governors camp, his legislation in Cross River will be radically different because government must find solutions instead of being part of the problem.

"Even though all southern governors have made it very clear that all southern governors must pass the anti-open grazing bills into law, Cross River has not," the governor says.

He adds that; "I have not because I have to find a solution. I cannot ask my herdsmen brothers--whether of northern or southern extraction--to shut down their trade, stay confined in a space, whether they have the pasture or not.

"In Cross River, we are coming with an open grazing management law and not a prohibition because I think morally and ethically, it is unacceptable to prohibit a trade that existed before I was born."

The farmers-herders clashes have further heightened ethnic tensions in a country roughly divided between a predominantly Christian south and a predominantly Muslim north.

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