Okowa tasks FG on solution to herdsmen crisis
• Explains How Delta Tackles Menace
Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has explained measures by his administration to tackle herdsmen/farmers’ clashes in the state, just as he urged the Federal Government to expedite action on plans to end the crisis in the country.
Okowa, who spoke yesterday during a TVC programme monitored in Asaba, listed several steps taken so far by his administration to stem the situation.
“It is a huge problem,” he stated. “It is in almost all the states of the country. It is very worrisome. I hope the Federal Government would come out with a policy plan on how to tackle this strongly.”
He expressed hope that the committee, comprising some governors and the Vice President that was set up on the matter would come up with a solution, stressing: “It is a huge problem that creates not only insecurity, but also affects the economy of poor Nigerians.
“When they move into farms, unfortunately the animals can’t differentiate between grass and crops; and you find them destroying people’s cassava, yams and other farm produce.”
Outlining the measures adopted by his government, Okowa said they involve working hard with the police through the office of a Special Adviser on Conflict Resolution, whom he said works very closely with a northerner as assistant and a Deltan, who grew up in the North and speaks Hausa fluently.
The governor added: “And to that extent, we have been able to minimise it, though we still have occasional clashes. We have also involved traditional rulers. We have held two sets of meetings with the traditional institution and the farmers themselves and representatives of Miyetti Allah. We held a meeting early last year and we held one two weeks ago.”
He said his administration has also gone ahead to constitute a committee at the local government level, which involves the local councils, police at the local government level, traditional rulers, Miyetti Allah, and some opinion leaders.
While reiterating his stand that there is no land in Delta State for cattle colonies, Okowa declared: “It is different if the cattle were moving and grazing on grass and not on the legitimate efforts and produce of people. But the situation has changed. Obviously that is not acceptable and all over the country there has been a lot of cry.
“There have been cattle ranches in the Mambila area for some time. So, why can’t they do ranches? And for those who have plenty of land and want colonies, we have nothing against it. But for us in Delta State and for most of the South South, I do know, we have limited land for agriculture and therefore it is difficult for us to be able to relinquish such land for cattle colonies.”
The governor explained that Delta has a lot of water bodies and water logged land, and that most of its available land has been degraded as a result of oil exploration.
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