The National Assembly is currently examining a Bill sponsored by Senator Barnabas Gemade, seeking to establish the National Ranches Commission for the regulation, management, preservation and control of ranches throughout Nigeria.
According to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, the 2011 National Agricultural Sample Survey indicated that Nigeria was endowed with an estimated 19.5 million cattle, 72.5 million goats, 41.3 million sheep, 7.1 million pigs and 28,000 camels. Accordingly, the minister said the country had 145 million chickens, 11.6 million ducks, 1.2 million turkeys and 974, 499 donkeys.
According to the above statistics, Nigeria is one of the leading countries in Africa in regard to livestock, however, the above number is still not able to meet the national demand. It is hoped the proposed ranching style being proposed by the Bill will aid in adding value to the livestock farming industry in the country.
The Bill in its first section provides for the establishment of the commission, while Sections 2 & 3 provide for the officers of the commission, consisting of a Chairman and other members who shall hold office for a period of 4 years.
The functions of the commission are found in Section 6 of the proposed bill. It provides that the duties of the commission shall be charged with the –
a. Establishing, controlling, managing and maintaining all National Ranches established by the Act.
b. Constructing dams, roads, bridges, fences and such infrastructures as may be considered necessary for the purpose of the ranches.
c. Determining the number of ranches to be established by state
d. Conserving and preserving the natural state of ranches.
e. Ensuring the preservation and protection of any objects of geological, archeological, historical, aesthetic or scientific interests of the ranches.
f. The development of facilities and amenities within the ranches.
g. Fostering in the mind of the public, the need to establish and develop ranches for the preservation of lifestock.
h. Doing other things incidental to its functions.
Further provisions of the Act establish how the Commission will be run in regard to its powers to accept gifts and borrow funds. Section 14 particularly states that the Commissions hall maintain a fund for its functions and shall present its expenditure to the Minister of Agriculture.
It is worthy to note that the Act contains a Pre-Action Notice in Section 24 which provides that the Commission shall be a month’s notice before legal proceedings can be instituted against the Commission.
Furthermore, Section 22, of the Bill provides against land encroachment on the Ranches. The Bill further prohibits bush burning and hunting on the Ranches as well. The Bill in Section 23, provides that anyone who contravenes the provisions of the Bill shall be liable on conviction to a fine of
(Fifty Thousand Naira) or imprisonment for 5 years or both.
The Propose Bill also contains a supplementary provision which provides for the proceedings of the commission.
Adedunmade is a lawyer and blogger. He practices in Lagos and publishes the law blog www.legalnaija.com. You can reach Adedunmade on firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed's Note - This article was originally published here.