Some state governments have said they are willing to coopearate with the federal government on the issue of grazing reserves as long as it does breach existing laws in the country.
LEADERSHIP reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had recently set up a committee to review the 415 grazing reserves in the country.
Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said the state government had demonstrated the importance of inclusiveness in agricultural development through several programmes towards ensuring not only food security but creating several job opportunities.
Speaking through his chief of staff, Hon. Festus Ovie Agas, said that meeting the increasing food demand of a growing population requires innovation in food systems to increase food production, processing, security and other parts of the value chain, as well as addressing other critical areas, such as inequality and access to improved agro-input.
He lamented that Nigeria’s growing food insecurity may soon spiral to a tipping point on account of the threat posed by open grazing of cattle just as he berated critics on the ban of opening grazing of cattle, saying that a lot of money is being spent by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to encourage farmers to ensure that the country is food sufficient but a lot of these efforts are lost because of insecurity.
He emphasized the importance of youth engagement and encouraged Deltans to embrace agriculture as an avenue to ensure sustained food security and steady earnings.
He said since farmers can’t go to farm, their crops are destroyed, they are maimed and raped and some are even killed.
“We cannot continue like this, because if you have a programme you are spending billions on, we must secure it and we must ensure the food security of this country,” he said.
He said there are 415 grazing reserves, only two are in the South— one each in Ogun and Oyo; 141 are gazetted, and the 141 that are gazetted are about 2.7 million hectares of land.
“Can we truly at this moment be promoting open grazing? We need to begin to look into what is best for us,” he said.
The governor highlighted some of the challenges to include improving food production and promoting sustainable agriculture, using innovative and emerging technologies to ensure the healthy livelihood of humans and environmental sustainability.
Okowa called for wholesale adoption of ranching because, apart from safety issues, it is more beneficial for both cattle owners and herders.
“We can actually create those ranches where the cattle will have more meat, more milk and then the children can actually afford to go to school,” the governor stated.
Review must comply with our laws – Plateau
Plateau State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dan Manjang, told our correspondent that, on the matter of review of the grazing routes, the state government will not do anything that is outside the law.
“If anything has to happen that way, if it is within the ambit of the law, why not? He said, even as he said state government is ready to cooperate because it is a law abiding administration, but that anything outside the law will not be accepted.
Manjang also said the enabling law must be put in place because most of the grazing routes had been tampered with and so there are structures either legal or illegal on these routes.
“If that is going to solve their problem, the state will key into it but where that will not solve their problem, the state will give reasons why they will not key into it. Above all if it does not transgress the constitution, Plateau State Government has no option than to key into it,” he said.
In Niger State, the state government has stated that it was developing a grazing reserve at Bobi in Mariga local government area of the state worth billions of naira before the President Muhammadu Buhari directive.
The commissioner of Livestock, Haruna Nuhu Dukku, said the state had already received delegations from other states of the north to understudy the model in Niger State .
He said that, recently, a delegation came from Borno State to understudy the model in the state, as the investment is between the state government and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
According to him, in the grazing reserve were provisions for schools, hospitals and milk processing companies for a milk value chain, to discourage the outdated nomadic practice of cattle rearing.
In Enugu State, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Mathew Idu, insisted that Enugu was not prepared for any grazing routes.
He maintained that there had never been grazing routes in Enugu, adding that the state was backing the southern governors to say no to grazing and grazing routes.
He further stated that the Houses of Assembly were working towards that ban on grazing.
Count Benue Out If It’s Open Grazing In Disguise
On its part, the Benue State government has reiterated its stance against grazing reserves, cattle routes, Ruga Settlement or anything dressed as open grazing.
The governor said, “Though the federal government craftily concealed the names of the 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.
“My stand is not personal, it is the collective decision of the Benue people. There is no gazetted land or cattle route in Benue State. Therefore, it should be counted out of the proposed grazing reserves programme.”
The governor also described as unfortunate a situation where the people’s love, trust and votes for President Muhammadu Buhari are being rewarded with hate, cruelty and dictatorial policies aimed at grabbing their lands to donate to herders.
Ortom emphasized that “If President Buhari must actualize his cattle agenda in Benue State, he should be ready to kill all of us; if grazing reserves and cattle routes are the only projects the President has for Nigerians, I want to repeat, Benue is not interested in such a project.”
The governor said the Presidency was whipping a dead horse on the issue of grazing reserves in the country because it is very much aware that all the northern states, including his home state Katsina, and the entire southern states have unanimously rejected open grazing of livestock.
The governor also asked the federal government to be more worried about millions of farmers displaced from their ancestral lands by the continuous attacks by herdsmen which has posed a threat to food security ‘instead of fighting for the well-being of cows.’
Governor Ortom who spoke through the chief press secretary, Terver Akase, also said he is equally disappointed with members of the committee which recommended that grazing reserves be established in parts of the country.
PMB Can’t Take Us Back To Pre-colonial Era – Governor Ishaku
For Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, it is impossible to allow President Muhammadu Buhari to take Nigeria back to the days of pre-colonial rule when land act had not been enacted by creating grazing routes.
The governor who spoke through his Special Adviser on media and publicity, Bala Dan Habu, said ranching of livestock is the only acceptable practice globally and must be practiceĺd in Nigeria to make life better both for the meat consumers and cattle dealers.
Ishaku said Taraba State, alongside other states in Nigeria, had signed into law the Open Grazing Prohibition Law and is not going back on its practice.
“Gone were the days when land act was not in place; the land act has given land authority to the state governments, Buhari can’t come and take land to give to Fulani. Here in Taraba State, Open Grazing Prohibition Law is in place and that is the only law we shall practice
The Imo State government has stressed that it was watching to see the shape the federal government’s review of grazing reserves presents before commenting on the issue.
This position was made known by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Hon. Declan Emelumba while interacting with LEADERSHIP.
According to him, the names of the states involved were not mentioned, coupled with the fact that Southern governors had banned open grazing. The commissioner revealed that this is aimed at avoiding friction between herders and farmers.
He said, “We are watching this development with keen interest and hope the federal government will continue to appreciate the stand of Southern governors,” he said.
Commissioner for Agric in Nasarawa State, Prof Otaki Alanana, in response to an SMS sent to him said, “The state is still studying it”.
He referred our correspondent to the state deputy governor, who is the chairman of the state steering committee.
On its part, Kwara State government has expressed its preparedness to work and cooperate with the federal government on the planned review of grazing reserves or routes.
The chief press secretary to the state governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, stated this yesterday while responding to a question on the preparedness of Kwara for the federal government’s review of grazing reserves or routes .
Ajakaye said: “The Kwara State government has always cooperated with the federal government on issues of socio-economic development and national security, among other areas of cooperation.
“The state is among the earliest subnational governments to key into the National Livestock Transformation Programme of the federal government because we see an opportunity to end the perennial herders-farmers’ clashes while also preparing for the future in terms of food security and sustainable development.
“The state government, for instance, had since concluded enumeration and data capturing of pastoralists and crop farmers ahead of take-off of the NLTP at the gazetted reserves in the state, specifically the Gidan Magajiya, Lata Grazing Reserve, and Kaiama Ranch. All of these were done in partnership with the federal government.
“In other words, the state government, always constantly working with local stakeholders, is fully prepared to work with the central government for the betterment of our country.”
As the federal government’s review of grazing reserves takes momentum across states of the federation, a top government official in Bauchi State told LEADERSHIP that the state was yet to officially engage with the federal government on the proposed review.
The official who does not want his name in print told our correspondent that “for now, I don’t want to comment on the issue, because we are still watching the development.”
He said the state government will key into any policy of the federal government, “when the policy conforms to our own context and peculiarities here.”
The Ogun State government yesterday declared that it was yet to take a position on the federal government’s plan to revive the grazing reserves routes across the country, for which the state was pencilled down as part of the states to be affected.
The state had already passed into law the anti-open grazing Bill, prohibiting herders and their livestock from openly grazing on any land across the state.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Abeokuta, the state capital yesterday, the chairman, Ogun State House of Assembly (OGHA) Committee on Agriculture, Hon. Yusuf Adejojo said the state was yet to take a decisive stand on the federal government’s pronouncement.
Adejojo, who disclosed that he is equally a member of the State’s Committee on Agriculture, explained that whatever decision the state arrives at would be communicated openly to members of the public, stressing that such decision would be in accordance with the law as well as the appropriate section of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.