The Bishop of Ihiala, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Anambra State, Prof Israel Okoye, has urged the electorate in the state not to vote for any candidate with open grazing agenda in the November 6 governorship election in the state.
While describing the election of such a candidate as a time bomb, the cleric warned that any support for open grazing would lead to acute food scarcity.
Okoye, a professor of political science at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, said this during the second session of the fourth synod of the diocese held at St Stephen’s Anglican Church, Ihiala.
The bishop described the debate on open grazing and allied matters as an unfortunate preoccupation and distraction from some fundamental issues on the economy, education, justice, equity, leadership and others, that needed to be addressed urgently.
He said: “Although cattle rearing is key in animal husbandry, its politicization and seeming treatment as a national obligation has attracted objection and resentment.
“The assumption that the constitution confers on cattle the right of movement on Nigerian roads and communities is untrue. Another erroneous stance is that cattle rearing is supported by the federal government, such that herders must be allowed to traverse any part of the country with their cattle as a guarantee for peace.
“Armed cattle herders now migrate with their cattle to any place of their choice, occupy forests without the consent of the government in charge to graze their cattle on people’s farms, where they kill, maim and rape women with impunity.
“The widely held feet-dragging of the federal government in arresting the fast-spreading dastardly acts of the armed Fulani herdsmen engendered ill feelings among the affected populations.”
Okoye charged the 17 Southern Governors to stick to their promise of ensuring the passage of the anti-open grazing law in their areas, reminding them that as chief security officers of their respective states, they owed their people the duty of protection at all times.