By Gabriel Yough
Taraba House of Assembly Speaker Abel Diah on Tuesday cautioned members of the public against politicising the anti-open grazing bill currently before the House.
Diah made the appeal in Jalingo, when he received a delegation of Taraba Farmers Protection Association, led by its chairman, Mr Ibrahim Bitrus, who paid a solidarity visit to the lawmakers.
“Contrary to speculations that the bill is targeted at a particular ethnic group, its intention is to promote peaceful coexistence and reduce clashes between farmers and grazers,” Diah stated.
The Speaker regretted that some sections of the bill were being altered or misinterpreted to cause mischief, and advised anyone interested in the bill to get a certified true copy from the House of Assembly.
He said that the House had set up a seven-man committee to conduct a public hearing on the bill, and urged stakeholders to take advantage of the hearing to make inputs into it.
While assuring the association that the bill, when passed into law, would be for the good of the state, he urged its members to attend the public hearing, saying that three hearings would be held with one in each of the three senatorial zones.
Earlier, Bitrus had told the Speaker that the bill was long overdue, describing it as the best solution to the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
“We are here to register our support for the bill because we are convinced that when it is passed and signed into law, peace and order will be guaranteed.
“We want to assure the legislators of our unflinching support toward the passage of this bill. We also want to assure the House that we shall mobilise Taraba residents to support it,” Bitrus said.
The association thanked Gov. Darius Ishaku for making fertiliser available to farmers in good time, saying that the gesture would boost food production in Taraba.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that hundreds of farmers, who converged at the Trade Fair Complex in Jalingo, had accompanied Bitrus to the House to register their support to the bill.
NAN also reports that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) recently mobilised its members to the House to register its displeasure over the bill which it said was “ill-motivated and discriminatory”.