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Ortom to Buhari: Count Benue out of grazing reserves plan

Says: ‘You’ve a hidden agenda on the matter

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State yesterday said President Mohammadu Buhari’s insistence on the creation of cattle grazing reserves is a clear indication that he has a hidden agenda on the issue which only the presidency knows. The governor therefore urged the Federal Government to count the state out of the states from which the grazing reserves are to be created. Governor Ortom reminded the President that Benue has no iota of land left for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies or Ruga settlements and is therefore not part of the grazing reserves rehabilitation programme of the government.

The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase in Makurdi, cautioned the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to weigh the negative consequences recommendations of the plan will bear on the unity and security of the nation, and advised President Buhari that Nigerians are not on the same page with him regarding the matter of open grazing.

“We in Benue have embraced ranching as the viable alternative to open grazing and there is no going back on our resolve. Our ranching law which prohibits open grazing is Benue people’s reaction to the incessant killings, and it is also an instrument of development. The law was enacted by representatives of the people in the Benue State House of Assembly, in exercise of its powers as provided for by Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). Part 2 of the Second Schedule reinforces the power of the State House of the Assembly providing that ‘a House of Assembly may make laws for the State with respect to industrial, commercial or agricultural development.’ “The Law followed due process with public hearings and requisite opportunity for all stakeholders making input.

“While we may not stop the Federal Government’s plan to rehabilitate grazing reserves or create cattle routes in other states, we wish to make it clear that no land in Benue State has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements. Benue is therefore not part of the grazing reserves rehabilitation programme of the Federal Government.

“We expect the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to weigh the negative consequences its recommendation will have on the unity and security of the nation and advise Mr President that Nigerians are not on the same page with him regarding the matter of open grazing. It is not too late to salvage the situation.

“We are concerned about the plight of millions of farmers who have been displaced as a result of herders’ attacks and are now in IDP camps; a development which is already adversely affecting food production. Benue State has over one million displaced people who are mostly farmers, and the task of returning them to their ancestral homes is what should bother the Ministry of Agriculture and other agencies of the Federal Government.”

 

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