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Cattle ranching in states threat to peace, security

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herdsmenMAJOR stakeholders across the country on Saturday warned that the plan by the Federal Government to create cattle ranches posed a big threat to the security and unity of the country.

According to them, the issue would compound the security challenges contronting the country unless the government quickly backed down on the plan that has already sparked general outrage.

Association of Middle Belt Ethnic Nationalities (ASOMBEN) through it Secretary Reverend JAMES Pam, said the approach was a wrong step by the government in its attempt to resolve farmers and herders’ clashes indeed, they claimed that it was a ploy to grab land for the herders outside their territories.

“As far as the Middle Belt is concerned, we shall resist this move; this is not a solution to herders’ and farmers’ clashes. The money the Federal Government earmarked for this exercise is like trying to pacify the Fulani. Moreover, more over ranching is a private business and totally wrong to fund private enterprise with public fund.

“The question is, where would the Federal Government get the land for ranching since it has no control of land? Based on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the lands are in the hands of state governments, and the people of the Middle Belt have continued to say it loud and clear that they would not release any part of their land for ranching. It is like the government doesn’t know how the menace of the herdsmen could be addressed.

“We don’t see how our people will release their lands for the establishment of ranches for those that have been killing them. This is certainly not possible, governors in the Middle Belt are aware of this,” he stated.

The national president, Middle Belt Youth Forum, Mr Emma Zompal corroborated the position of ASOMBEN, stressing that the government ought to have felt the pulse of the people of the geo-political zone before it arrived at ranching as a solution to the killings in the Middle Belt.

According to him, the money pruposed for the project should be spent on developmental projects instead of using it to pacify  the herdsmen.

ALSO READ: We won’t enact anti-grazing law in Plateau —Lalong

Clerics differ

Also Speaking with Sunday Tribune in separate interactions on Saturday, notable religious leaders expressed divergent views on the move.

They also restated the need for transparency in the event that the ranches are eventually established.

Founder and Head of Inri Evangelical Spiritual Church, with headquarters in Lagos, Primate Elijah Ayodele, called on the government to halt the pilot scheme, insisting that it would worsen the security situation in the country.

“The Federal Government should be very careful with some of its policies so as not to worsen the already terrible security situation in the country.

“Why should the Federal Government be bent on creating ranches in some states? This is wrong and not appropriate. The level of insecurity in the country is disturbing. Creating ranches will further worsen the situation,” he stated.

Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), South-West zone, Archbishop Magnus Atilade, commended the idea but called for proper management of the modalities for the establishment of the ranches.

“As of now, I don’t have enough details of what they want to do. However, I think the Federal Government should work with the states, which will decide where they want the ranches to be, and the modalities of managing them. These are some of the important parameters to consider. I know the nomadic way of life is not acceptable, because it is causing too much problems. I support ranching; that’s what is done in other countries. However, we don’t want them to convert the ranches into settlements, where they will say they want to appoint an emir or something like that,” Atilade stated.

In his own response, Archbishop Michael Stephen of the Methodist Church Nigeria, said: “I don’t see anything particularly wrong, as the government must be in search of solution to the herdsmen situation, and ranching has been suggested, as it done in other parts of the world, where they have similar situation.

“I know some states have been identified. I want to believe that it is a pilot scheme, and I hope they are thinking of a nationwide solution. In terms of solution, it is a step in the right direction, if it will be handled properly and the states concerned will have to be taken into account.”

In his reaction, the lawmaker representing Anocha State Constituency in Anambra State House of Assembly, Honourable Charles Ezani, said such idea should be jettisoned on account of the heinous crimes being committed by herdsmen across the country.

Ezani stated that the issue of cattle ranches was a no-go area in the South-East region, especially Anambra State.

He said the South-East “does not have enough landmass for itself let alone giving it out to cattle herders.”

The businessman cum politician maintained that his constituency – Anocha has no land to even erect residential buildings as the people lived in erosion-prone areas.

The lawmaker noted that there was hunger and famine in the country this year because farmers could no longer go to the farmlands for fear of herdsmen’s attack.

Also, the General Overseer of Mount Zion Faith Global Liberation Ministries (a.k.a) By Fire By Fire, Nnewi, Anambra State, Bishop Abraham Chris Udeh, condemned the policy.

He noted that the ultimate objective of plan was to Islamise the country which he said would not work, calling on all well-meaning Nigerians to rise up against the proposed project.


Nasarawa donates grazing reserves

Meanwhile, the Nasarawa State government has offered the seven grazing reserves in the state to the federal government for its proposed ranching programme.

The Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Mohammed Abdullahi, announced this in a statement, on Saturday, in Lafia.

Abdullahi, said the state government has keyed into the federal government’s  ranching initiative aimed at finding sustainable solution to the recurrent farmers and herdsmen crises in the country.

“Governor Umaru Al-Makura has approved the utilisation of all the seven gazetted grazing reserves in the state, located at Awe, Keana, Doma, Assakio, Keana, Gitata and Kurudu for the purpose of the ranching programme in Nasarawa State.

A social critic based in Warri, Delta State, Chief Sunny Onuesoke, whle speaking with Sunday Tribune on the issue said, the proposed cattle ranching project should be handled as a private business and not a government venture.

“It’s quite unfortunate that other African nations are moving ahead, trying to avoid dependence on analogue technology, but it is now we are talking of cattle ranching.

“Every investor in the cattle business needs no instructions to create his ranch in his own state or local government; the Federal Government needs not be concerned about it.

“Can [President Muhammadu] Buhari tell Nigerians that he saw cattle roaming the streets of Morocco, when he visited recently?

“In a nutshell, Buhari should, as a matter of urgency, tell northern governors to provide lands for ranching in the North and intensify grass planting campaigns and massive irrigation system to grow grass,” he said.

The post Cattle ranching in states threat to peace, security appeared first on Tribune.

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