The moment the bill was proposed, discerning Nigerians immediately knew it was one sure way of setting Nigeria on fire. It is coming in the middle of the crises triggered by the atrocious activities of the world's fourth deadliest terror group, the Fulani herdsmen.
These herdsmen have been killing and sacking host communities across the country, mostly in the south west, south south and south east, as well as in the middle belt, at the slightest provocation, if any at all. Their worst onslaughts included the Agatu massacre in Benue State and the Ukpabi Nimbo madness in Uzo Uwani, Enugu State.
But while Nigerians are expressing outrage at the murderous activities of the Fulani herdsmen and the seeming complicity of the federal government through its silence, it appears that some people are intent on stoking the anger of Nigerians further by pushing through the vexatious grazing bill.
Under this bill, the federal government will be free to confiscate any choice land anywhere in the country and pay whatever it deems as enough compensation to the owner even when the owner does not want to sell. Besides that, the owner must show proof of ownership before any compensation is paid, meaning that many people won't even be paid since their lands are family lands without documents.
On taking over the land, the federal government will then assign it to herdsmen who will use the said land for grazing purposes on a permanent basis.
Anyone not satisfied with the deal will be allowed to go to court after notifying the federal attorney general on their intention to sue. This means that the case will die if the attorney general refuses to consent to the suit. The person then loses their land forever to the herdsmen.
When and if passed, the law will affect the whole country, including villages and hamlets.
This is an obvious attempt to favour the Fulanis where the president comes from. If not, why has the federal government not extended same favours to Igbo business men, for instance? It is like asking families in the north to vacate their business premises for Igbos because of their business acumen. This, of course, will not be possible in the north. So, why subject the other parts of Nigeria to this anomalous arrangement that is akin to a direct invitation to war?
Given the existing tension between the rest of the country and the Fulanis, it is very evident that such a grazing arrangement is the last thing Nigeria needs at the moment.
This arrangement is so obviously lopsided in favour of one group. The herdsmen are doing their private business and as such, should be the ones to negotiate for land with others, rather than the federal government using the tax payers' money to buy land for them and settle them to wit. This is grossly unfair and unacceptable.
Allowing the bill to succeed will mean that the Fulanis will be coexisting with their host communities as unwanted guests and only God knows if their camps will not be used by Boko Haram to manufacture bombs to be used against their hosts.
We therefore call on the rest of Nigeria to oppose this bill for all it is worth. We call on the affected state governors to rally all relevant stakeholders in their states to coordinate opposition to this bill. We call on all members of the national assembly from targeted areas to oppose this; and we also call on all the state legislatures to do same.
We particularly enjoin the south east governors to resuscitate the apparently moribund South East Governors' Forum and use it to rally their people and coordinate their activities. This is because of the likelihood of the south east bearing the brunt of the proposed bill if it sails through. A stitch in time saves nine. We cannot stand and watch and merely react. We should be proactive.
Everything must be done to stop this crazy grazing bill from seeing the light of day.