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While five governors out of six in the South West have signed the anti-gazing law, findings by PLATFORM TIMES have revealed that the second term bid of the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun is reportedly making him to ‘foot-drag’ in giving its assent to the bill in the state.
PLATFORM TIMES reports that the Ogun Assembly was the second to pass the bill after the agreement of Southern Governors on anti- open grazing bill, but Governor Abiodun has refused to sign the bill to become a law, two months after it was passed.
The bill, when signed into law, will address the incessant clashes between herders and farmers in the State, which has led to loss of lives and property in Ogun West senatorial district of the state.
PLATFORM TIMES observes that a section of the bill prescribed a jail term of not less than three years without an option of fine, including the forfeiture of the herds of cattle or livestock under his/her control to the state government for anyone who rears, herds or grazes any livestock in any part of the state, except within the permitted ranches or anyone who rears cattle or livestock outside the permitted ranches after the commencement of the law.
But, findings by PLATFORM TIMES exposed that the governor deliberately refused to sign the bill into law so as not to spite President Muhammadu Buhari, whose body language is reportedly against the bill.
A top official in the government told PLATFORM TIMES that the governor is not ready to sign the bill. This is because the governor is ready to do anything to secure the second term ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
From findings, the Ogun State Assembly was the second to pass the anti-gazing bill on July 8, 2021, two months after 17 southern governors met in Asaba and resolved to ban open grazing in their respective states.
After individual attempts to address the menace of open grazing in Southern states, the Forum of Southern Governors in one voice on 12th May, 2021 announced a ban on open grazing in all the 17 Southern states.
They recommended that the Federal Government should support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.
They also called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to as a matter of urgency and importance, address Nigerians on the frightening state of insecurity across the nation and convoke a national dialogue.
The governors, who were united by their resolve to make Nigeria work, betrayed partisan sentiments and agreed among other issues that the President should address Nigerians to restore the people’s confidence.
Of the 17 southern states, 13 governors were in attendance at the meeting. They were Governor Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Dr Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos).
Others were Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), David Umahi (Ebonyi), and Willie Obiano (Anambra). Imo and Akwa Ibom states were represented by their deputy governors, while Osun and Cross Rivers states were absent at the meeting.
In a resolution after the meeting, the forum explained the rationale for the ban on open grazing, stressing that, “development and population growth have put pressure on available land and increased the prospects of conflict between migrating herders and locals in the South. Given this scenario, it becomes imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the South, including cattle movement to the South by foot.”
After the agreement, the governors met on July 5, 2021 and part of their agreement was that by Wednesday, September 1, the anti-open grazing law would have taken effect in all member states.
PLATFORM TIMES however observed that Ogun State Assembly had passed the law more than two months, but the governor did not sign it into law or yield to the deadline agreed by himself and other southern governors.
One of the lawmakers in the state, who spoke with PLATFORM TIMES on condition of anonymity claimed the governor is angry that the Assembly went ahead to pass the bill into law.
The lawmaker revealed that the governor is allegedly not on the same page with the Assembly on the anti-gazing law.
He noted, “the governor is not interested in the anti-gazing bill and he is not ready to sign it into law.
“He even challenged the Speaker, asking him why we went ahead with the passing of the bill. He was asking if he sent us such message.
“From what we gathered, the governor will not sign the law because it may affect his second term bid.
“You know this governor is presently struggling with getting a second term ticket and he wants to do everything to impress the Abuja people.
“And you know anti-gazing law is against the position of the president, that’s why the governor did not want to sign it,” the law maker said.
All efforts to get the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Kunle Somorin to speak on the issues proved abortive as he refused to reply messages sent to him and calls put across to him were not successful.
However, when the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ogun state, Akingbolahan Adeniran was contacted, he said he is not too sure if the governor has signed the bill into law.
Adeniran noted that the governor has no objection against the bill.
In his words, “I cannot verify for you for sure that he hasn’t signed it into law. We are just not been able to communicate since the burial, but possibly he has signed it to law.
“I am in Abuja, I would have followed up on it, but possible he has signed it into law.
“He has no objection to it, it is something that we have to follow up on. I will get back to you when I get back to Ogun State”.