August 21, (THEWILL) – Benue State’s Governor Samuel Ortom has joined issues with President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to “review” and “reopen” 368 grazing sites throughout the country.
A statement on Friday from Ortom’s media aide, Terver Akase, wondered: ““What is the difference between the Buhari administration’s approach to insecurity and the Taliban agenda in Afghanistan?”
The Governor said it appeared the President was showing more concern about imposing animals’ right of way and accommodation on citizens, rather than marshalling resources to end widespread insecurity, much of which has been unleashed by Fulani killer herdsmen.
Saying Buhari has cleverly concealed the names of the states in which he intended to cite the 368 grazing acres, Ortom’s release warned, “No part of Benue will be allocated for grazing reserves or cattle routes!”
The full statement read: “We were shocked and disappointed to read a statement from the Presidency indicating that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved recommendations of a committee to review ‘with dispatch,’ 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in the country, to determine the levels of encroachment.
“In a country where insecurity has reached an all-time high with hundreds being killed by armed herdsmen, bandits and other terrorists, the Presidency is only bothered about animals and their safety and is deploying all machinery and arsenals of government to impose grazing reserves and cattle routes on Nigerians. This is unacceptable!
“It is now clear that The Presidency wants to plunge the country into an avoidable crisis. Otherwise, what is the justification for President Buhari’s insistence that grazing reserves be established across the country when Nigerians have openly kicked against the policy and have embraced ranching in place of open grazing?
“The Buhari administration does not seem to be worried about the food crisis already ravaging the country. Farmers have been chased into IDP camps by herders and children are dying of starvation, yet what is more important to their President is the well being of cows.
“We expected the pitiable condition of the displaced people to be the preoccupation of the President whom they voted for in 2015 and 2019. It is unfortunate that the people’s love, trust and votes for Mr President are being rewarded with hate, cruelty and dictatorial policies aimed at grabbing their lands to donate to herders and cows.
“What is the difference between the Buhari administration’s approach to insecurity and the Taliban agenda in Afghanistan? It is now evident that the government at the centre prioritizes the welfare of cattle over human beings and is bent on taking Nigeria back to the pre-colonial era. The country has been turned to a cow republic by the present administration.
“The Federal Government introduced the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) and Nigerians accepted the policy. Why has the Buhari administration dumped the programme and opted for grazing reserves and cattle routes?
“Governor Samuel Ortom has repeatedly stated that there is no land for grazing reserves or cattle routes in Benue State. Though the Federal Government craftily concealed the names of states where Mr President has ordered that grazing reserves be foisted on the people, we wish to categorically state that no part of Benue will be allocated for grazing reserves or cattle routes!
“If President Buhari must actualize his cattle agenda in Benue State, he should be ready to kill all of us! We know that grazing reserves and cattle routes are the only project that the President has for Nigeria, but Benue is not interested in such a project.”
A Thursday statement by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Buhari approved the recommendations of a committee to review “with dispatch, 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in the country, and to determine the levels of encroachment.”
It will also make recommendations for gazetting of non-gazetted grazing reserves and ensure that grazing reserves are well communicated to all stakeholders.
Said to have been inaugurated on May 10, 2021, it is headed by Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, and is under instruction to tackle the assignment with dispatch to bring more understanding on the grazing reserves, and implementation.
Members of the committee include, Governor of Kebbi State and Vice Chairman, National Food Security Council, Atiku Bagudu, Governor of Ebonyi and Chairman of NEC Sub-Committee for National Livestock Transformation Plan, David Umahi, Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Mahmood and Deputy Chief of Staff, Ade Ipaye.