Unarguably, the proposed establishment of cattle ranches in Nasarawa State has been politicised, forcing Governor Umaru Tanko Al-makura to issue a statement debunking the position taken by the main opposition party in the state, PDP, accusing it of being unpatriotic and mischievous.
When the governor announced government’s decision to allocate land for the exercise, as part of the overall plans to combat the recurring issue of clashes between herders and farmers, there was widespread outcry from the opposition PDP.
In a statement issued last week, Al-makura described the claim by the PDP regarding cattle ranches as calculated attempt to blackmail his government.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at a press conference addressed by its chairman in the state, Hon Francis Orogu penultimate week, accused Al-makura, siting the proposed cattle ranches in predominantly Alago communities, leaving his Kwandere community.
Of course, Governor Al-makura is right, the attempt by the PDP to attach ethnic colorations to the proposed establishment of cattle ranches in Nasarawa State by the state government, did not surprise many political observers in the state as that narrative is always in the stable of the PDP and their collaborators who are hell-bent to return to power in 2019 thus, can employ all foul means to achieve that.
At the said press conference, PDP said there is something evil in the decision of the state government in concentrating grazing reserves in Alago communities. “If grazing reserve is good development, why didn’t Al-makura take it to his village? Why take it to three Alago communities and others.
“The locations chosen for the reserves are questionable and not suitable due to on going farmers/herdsmen crisis in the state Indeed, from the above quotes in Hon. Orogu’s press conference, we can see clearly that the PDP is only trying to invent certain sentiments with the aim of pitting Alago nation against Al-makura’s Senate candidature on one hand, and on the other hand, to depict the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari in negative light before the good people of Nasarawa South in particular and the good people of the state in general.
From the tone of Hon. Orogu’s text, it is clear that the PDP in Nasarawa State is not in support of establishment of cattle ranches in the state.
Any one with good knowledge of Northern Nigeria knows that it was not Governor Al-makura who created and gazetted the grazing reserves in Keana, Doma and Assakio. It was the colonial government that created grazing reserves in Northern Nigeria in 1940 as part of efforts to separate the grazing lands from farm lands and these grazing reserves were formally signed into law by the regional government in 1965; thus grazing reserves predates Governor Al-makura’s administration.
And as we can see, the State Government only directed that all the existing grazing reserves in the state be converted for purpose of establishment of cattle ranches, which all well meaning Nigerians see as the only solution to the menace of farmers/ herders clash in Nigeria.
As for the siting of infrastructure in Kwandere village, again any person with good understanding of Nasarawa State knows that every town and village in Nasarawa State gets its fair share of the dividend of democracy under the able leadership of Umaru Tanko Al-makura.
Since 2011 when he (Al-makura) took over the mantle of leadership of the state, it is to everybody’s knowledge that his major preoccupation is on how to distribute evenly, the dividends of democracy to the communities that make up Nasarawa State.
In the whole of Nasarawa State, there is no community that has not benefited from Al-makura’s dividend of democracy. We all marvel at his performance and his prudent management of human and material resources of the state. Nobody in his real sense can deny Al-makura’s impressive performance, as the infrastructures he put in place across the three Senatorial districts are not only ‘touchable’ but concrete and solid.
Clearly, by attaching ethnic sentiment into proposed cattle ranches, the PDP is not only playing politics but has shown the level of desperation to return to power in the state, but then, is it proper and sensible for us to play politics on matters that have to do with the lives of our people?
Farmers/herders conflicts have become distressing in this country especially in the North Central states, as the conflicts have caused these states to lose thousands of her youths as well as property worth billions of Naira, in addition to the damage done to the existing bonds amongst our communities.
Given the colossal damage done by these conflicts to us, it has became imperative on us to work towards finding a lasting solution to the menace notwithstanding our political and religious differences. And since cattle ranching is identified as the only solution to these conflicts, there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to bring in politics into the matter to achieve political gains. On matters of national security, all other political considerations or personal liberties takes the back seat. Even in advanced democracies, national security is always at the front burner; it supersedes any other considerations. Farmers/herders conflict in Nigeria undoubtedly is a serious threat to our national security requiring all hands on deck.
The sentiments which PDP is trying to exude regarding cattle ranching in Nasarawa State cannot fly, as the people of the state have since become wise to their antics. We can only advise the PDP to key into this noble idea of cattle ranches in the state and stop the shenanigan.
–Bala writes from Lafia.