The senator representing the Nasarawa West Senate District and former Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Adamu said the government has a duty to treat pastors who were being treated other citizens.
He spoke in a media parliament with the Senate Press Corps in Abuja on Monday and said the uproar over herdsmen in Nigeria was unnecessary given that they are also Nigerian and should be protected by the government at various levels.
He lamented that the shepherds, due to their vocation, do not enjoy infrastructure such as good roads, electricity, piped water, etc. , however, their rights are being frustrated.
According to him, the government should make funds available to herders who conduct their legitimate business in the same way that entrepreneurs across the country have access to funds from the national treasury.
He said: ” This government has a duty like the way it treats businessmen in Alaba, Onitsha, Kano and Port Harcourt to also treat herdsmen because they are Nigerian. These provisions are public funds. They are not from the private fund of any governor or senator. The funds come from the treasury of this country and every Nigerian has an interest in that treasure.
” Therefore, the government has a duty to find the means so that pastors do not get lost in the course of their legitimate duty. ”
Abdullahi, who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, expressed disappointment at the way governors are legislating on the law against open grazing, and said the right of movement for herders was being inhibited.
While reacting to questions about national issues, he added: ” When I read the meeting of southern governors and the issue of outdoor grazing and how they kicked him and threatened to make a law against him. I responded to you in a way that you remembered.
” I believe that as governors, as members of the executive, operating at different levels of government, they have a constitutional responsibility, the constitution to which they are sworn.
” One of the fundamental rights that exists is every Nigerian, without exception. Every Nigerian has the right to move freely. Every Nigerian has the right to conduct a legitimate business. The right of association is enshrined in the constitution. You cannot, under any circumstances, take away these rights.
” I don’ t know under any conditions which government can say, yes, we can take away this right. When they came up with this, I was wondering. First of all, a week before the meeting that the governors had here in Abuja and there was no announcement like that. I was surprised when I read about their meeting in Asaba. ”
Responding to questions that the anti- grazing law was gaining traction in the North, he said: ” I continue to support that. The fact that one or two governors of the North have said something like that does not take away the right of the shepherds.
” The point here is that nature has closed the void. You cannot build something on nothing. The duty to protect pastoralists and farmers rests directly with the national government, the state government, and the local government administration.
” The question here is, has the government done what it is supposed to do to protect Nigerians who are in that vocation, in that profession and in that trade? The answer is no and the person desperately seeking a livelihood cannot be blamed.
” However, this does not excuse someone who is exercising their right to damage someone’ s right. I must be very clear on this, a farmer has the right to cultivate, if he dares to take his livestock and damages his agricultural crops, he has the right to file claims before the Court of Justice. That is the law as I understand it.
” So, it does not matter. If all the northern governors make the same pronouncement that the southern governors made, that does not remove my fundamental position on the matter. The government owes the shepherds the duty to protect their vocation and I dare to repeat that if you go to the Wuse market here, you will see how much infrastructure has been provided by the FCT and the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), such as water and electricity. These are for Nigerians. These herders are Nigerians. “