Government, ex-lawmaker disagree over proposed cattle colonies
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, yesterday said the proposed cattle colonies were not an attempt to encourage colonisation of the states by herdsmen.
Receiving Governor Simon Lanlong of Plateau State in Abuja, the minister stated that the policy would not in any way transfer communal land ownership to the nomads.
Highlighting the merit of the proposal over ranching, Ogbeh said it was a strategic measure to curb the avoidable bloodletting in the country. The clarification follows the outrage and speculation that there was an ulterior motive to tacitly encourage land grabbing.His words: “There is no truth in the speculation that government was conspiring to grant supremacy over communal land to Fulani herdsmen.
“Cattle colony is not using Fulani herdsmen to colonise any state. It is going to be done in partnership with state governments that would like to volunteer land.”
However, a member of the House Representatives in the sixth and seventh National Assembly, Bitrus Kaze, has raised the fears that the proposal was a ploy to revive and foist the rejected national grazing reserve policy on Nigerians.
The spurned programme was to make land readily available for grazing for herds irrespective of where the owners are from.But the former Plateau State- born lawmaker asserted that the move was another way of forcing the ‘unpopular’ policy down the throats of the citizens Kaze, in a statement in Jos, said: “The idea was originally mooted by the Chief Of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai sometimes in December 2016.
“Whereas the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, claimed from the outset that the military grazing ranches have nothing to do with herdsmen and local communal clashes, whereas the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, held a contrary view.
“The foregoing brings to the fore the capricious trend of the Muhammadu Buhari administration in pursuing his favourite policy notwithstanding the perpetual killings by herdsmen.”
He continued: “The framers of the 1999 constitution unmistakably conferred a constitutional status on the Land Use Act which continues to apply as any other lawful provisions. Assuming it is true that 16 unnamed states of the federation are willing to provide lands for cattle colonies, it falls short of the required two-thirds majority of each floor of the National Assembly as well as state assemblies for such a policy to be initiated.”
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