The Anambra State House of Assembly on Tuesday commenced consideration of the Anti-open grazing bill which was sent to the House Committee on Agriculture chaired by Hon. John Nwokoye, member representing Awka North constituency.
Following the sensitivity of the bill, last week, the Committee on Agriculture held a public hearing to elicit diverse responses on various clauses of the bill and the hearing was well attended by stakeholders not only in the agricultural sector but also by concerned community leaders across the state.
Representatives of cattle rearers in Anambra state, representatives of Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo, among others, were all in attendance and had harmonious and yet, robust inputs to the bill.
During plenary, the Committee presented its report for consideration by the House, in line with lawmaking procedure. However, some clauses in the bill were subject to intense debate by House members. At least twice, the Speaker Rt. Hon. Uche Okafor had to call for votes by members to be able to arrive at what decision the House is taking. For instance, Clause 4:2Q provided that the governor shall appoint a youth representative into the “Livestock Special Taskforce Committee.”
Members in their debate were divided as to the particular youth body from which the appointment should be made. While some members argued that the clause has to specifically recognize Anambra State Association of Town union – ASATU youth wing as the youth body from which the governor should make the appointment, others suggested that the National Youth Council of Nigeria – NYCN rather be inputted. After further considerations were made, the speaker put it to vote and about twelve members voted to leave as it is without naming any youth body.
Yet again, the size of the land that may be leased was another point to which members could not so easily agree. At first, it was almost left at “20 hectares” as contained in the bill, until Hon. Nonso Okafor, member representing Nnewi North constituency called the attention of the House to the fact that 20 hectares are about three hundred plots of land, which, conceivably is quite excessive. He then moved a motion for the provision to instead be amended to 10 hectares.
After several contributions by Hon. Somto Udeze, Hon. Noble Igwe, Hon. Ebele Ejiofor, Hon. Onyebuchi Offor, the House could still not arrive at any decision; in consequence, the Speaker again resorted to vote. In the end, based on the votes by members present, the House agreed to leave it at 10 hectares.
Consideration by the Anambra State House of Assembly, of the report by the Committee on Agriculture on the Anambra State anti-open grazing bill, could not be exhausted today before the House adjourned. The deliberation is therefore expected to continue on the next adjourned date.