The senate has disagreed with the Federal Government over the Proposal to establish a national bureau charged with the identification and management of cattle, goats and sheep in parts of the country.
The Senate said that creation of the bureau to identify and manage the animal would serve as a means to forestall cattle rustling as well as curtail conflicts between herders and farmers across the country.
The proposal for the establishment of the bureau is contained in a Bill seeking to establish National Animal Identification and Management Bureau for the purpose of animal traceability, registration and identification.
Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, vehemently opposed the proposal describing it as unnecessary.
Ogbe who expressed his objection at a Public Hearing organized by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, argued that already, there was a department in his ministry saddled with the responsibility for which the agency was being sought.
The minister insisted that creating the proposed agency would render the some staff of his ministry redundant and serve as a duplication of the functions of department saddled with the duty.
Senator Abu Ibrahim, who sponsored the bill countered that it is obvious that the ministry has failed to address the content of the Bill.
Ibrahim added that from all indications, the ministry has no clear cut direction in tackling and bringing to an end, the perennial problem of cattle rustling and farmers and herders conflict which he said has assumed a threatening dimension in recent times.
The lawmaker who pointing out that the Ministry of Agriculture last held a conference on curbing farmers, herders clash, cattle rustling in 2009, noted that there had been lingering rustling of cattle, herders, farmers clash, to which the ministry has not taken any action to contain.
On the importance of the Bill, Ibrahim said that if it becomes a law, cattle could be traced, while the bureau will solve a lot of security questions in the Nigerian meat industry.
The lawmaker who stated that Nigeria has the largest population of cattle compare to other countries in Africa, lamented that “yet the business of livestock is still localized only within Nigeria because the bureau is not yet in existence.”
He noted that the country has been denied of gross earnings, since it could not export meat to other countries for lack of meeting international standard.
Ibrahim also lamented that Nigeria has not keyed into the Pretoria declaration two years after, hence, there was no proper recordings, identification and management of animals in Nigeria.
He said, “In April 2015, Sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria adopted a declaration in Pretoria, South Africa, on animal identification and recording.”
He stoutly canvassed that animal related responsibilities be severed from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for it to function effectively.
According to him, the bureau would effectively tackle cattle rustling and check the menace of herdsmen/farmers clashes.
He explained that animal live stocks could easily be identified, the location, and breed known, adding that they will also be traced for purposes of disease surveillance.
“The challenge of herdsmen and farmers clashes would have been taken care of with the propose bureau. It also means that ownerships, location, breed and other information on animal would have been available for easy tracking if there is animal disease.” he said.
Ibrahim who regretted that the ministry is only concerned about themselves and how to preserve bureaucracy, he warned that states are now making laws against open grazing, saying that the agency and the Bill could not have come at any better time than now.
“If cattle are rustled, the owner can be traced through the microchip that is planted in their body. Stolen cattle can equally be recovered”, he said.
The senator said that the law is already in existence in countries like Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and Djibouti, which he said have less cattle than Nigeria.