Women from the Epie/Atissa communities in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest against the menace of herdsmen.
The women waving leaves at the Tombia Roundabout, Etegwe axis of Yenagoa, also barricaded the road, which is the major road leading into the state capital, to drive home their demand for herdsmen to leave their farmlands.
Former Governor Henry Seriake Dickson had set up a committee to enforce restriction of grazing activities to the Bayelsa Oil Palm Estate, Elebele near Yenagoa, during his second term in office.
However, nothing was done to punish non-compliance and it has become a common sight as herdsmen move their cattle along major roads in Yenagoa, leaving a trail of smelly droppings.
Farmers have also been feeling the brunt of grazing activities as their crops are not spared by the herdsmen who clandestinely allow their animals to destroy farms without any recriminations.
With the state government keeping quiet over the menace posed by the herdsmen, the women took the bull by the horns by staging the protest to draw public attention to the destruction of their means of livelihood.
The women were heard shouting that “enough is enough” and that herdsmen should leave their farmlands and urged the state government to protect them and their crops from the herdsmen.
“We cannot continue to keep quiet over this issue. We don’t want cattle in our area again. It is time for the government to act before something else happens,” one of them said.
The state governor, Douye Diri, has declared agriculture as a priority area, but his administration is yet to address the threat posed by open grazing to food security in the state which depends on neighbouring states for food supplies.
The protest of the women on Wednesday is the first coordinated public outcry to the devastating effects of open grazing by herdsmen in the state.