Anti-open grazing: Ortom laughs last?
By Comrade Martin Iorsamber
SIR: If you want to be a good politician, be a student of Northern Nigeria politics.
Some years back, the whole of Northern Nigeria was against Governor Samuel Ortom or Benue State. The reason was that the governor signed into law, the bill presented to the Benue State House of Assembly by a group known as Movement against Fulani Occupation MAFO.
Governor Ortom was not initially in support of this bill as he had earlier sent an executive bill to the state House of Assembly to facilitate the allocation of land and other resources to Fulani herdsmen in Benue. During a public hearing in Gboko, youths became angry and disrupted the public hearing.
The signing of the Anti-Open grazing and Ranches Establishment Bill into law in Benue was opposed by every known power broker in the north. Even governors of the north-central where the herdsmen were having a field day in killing and destruction of properties, were against Ortom. The governor of Plateau State even went on national television to condemn the Benue position on open grazing. There was only one Prof Alkali from Kano who stood in support of the anti-open grazing law.
Today, the northern power brokers have started singing a different song. The Northern Governors’ Forum has suddenly woken up to realize that open grazing is outdated. Interestingly, the Arewa Consultative Forum has backed the NGF.
Could it be that the people who were being used to push these things are no longer in their offices? The former minister of agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh was one such a voice. Could it be because of 2023 – the prospects of a southerner taking over as president in which case, the north needs to put their house in shape?
Could it be a bargain to calm the nerves of those using the herdsmen terrorist attacks to agitate for restructuring?
Many questions. We are celebrating victory for the common man who never had any support. Today, all those who worked tirelessly for the anti-open grazing law will be happy that the whole of Northern Nigeria came together to adopt it. While the celebration is on, Nigerians must still be at alert, to remain united and focused, in fighting terrorism in whichever way it comes.
In all of these, always remember that when it comes to politics, the North will always be ahead because they know the best time; when to strike and when to withdraw.
Comrade Martin Iorsamber, Lafiya, Nasarawa State