A bill to create a national database for livestock in Nigeria has passed second reading in the Nigerian Senate.
The bill for an establishment Act of a National Livestock Bureau was passed during plenary on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Muhammad Bima Enagi (Niger South – APC), said the bureau would be created for the purpose of livestock identification, traceability, registration, cattle rustling control, disease control, and other related matters.
The senator noted that agriculture is a mainstay of the Nigerian economy with the livestock sub-sector vital to the nation’s socio-economic development, despite current low productivity.
“Livestock identification refers to keeping records of individual farm animals or groups of farm animals so that they can be more easily tracked from their birth, through the marketing chain, to the table,” he said.
The lawmaker said the bill intends to indicate ownership and prevent rustling, as well as collate genetic information on animals, and improve the ability to trace animals.
He noted that despite having about 40% of cattle population in West Africa, Nigeria has been unable to participate in the export of meat and other dietary product due to the absence of a management system.
He said the system would deter animal theft, and aid security agencies to mitigate the incessant conflicts between herders and farmers.
Decades-long conflict over access and control of land between the nomadic cattle herders and local farming communities has led to thousands of lives lost, and millions worth of property damage.
Senator Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North – APC), said passing the bill into law is key to implementing the economic diversification goals of the current government, and solving the herders-farmers crisis.
Senator Kabir Abdullahi Barkiya (Katsina Central – APC) said being able to track livestock would significantly reduce cattle rustling, a trend he said is worsening banditry in the northern region.
Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (Kebbi South – APC) described the bill as ‘one of the best legislation’ introduced in the chamber, especially in view of the lingering insecurity crisis.
“Extraordinary situations require extraordinary actions. If the content of this bill is implemented, it means movement of cattle would be strictly monitored and almost impossible for anybody to have access to illegal livestock and sell them elsewhere,” he said.
Senator Bashir Ajibola (Osun Central – APC) raised a constitutional point of order as to whether the National Assembly has the power to legislate on the subject matter, but was overruled by Senator Na’Allah and Senate President Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North – APC).
The bill was passed for a second reading and referred to the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development to report back within four weeks.
A similar bill was previously passed for a third reading by the Eighth Senate, but was never signed into law.