The Benue State government has urged the Federal government to leave the state out of its plans on open grazing noting that there is no land to be bequeathed for cattle grazing routes in the state.
This is in reaction to a statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, on the plan of the Federal Government to commence rehabilitation of grazing reserves in the country.
The Benue State government, in a statement on Tuesday, described the Federal Government’s move as not only shocking but one that shows there is a hidden agenda.
The statement reads, “While we may not stop the Federal Government’s plan to rehabilitate grazing reserves or create cattle routes in other states, we wish to make it clear that no land in Benue State has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements. Benue is therefore not part of the grazing reserves rehabilitation programme of the Federal Government.
“We expect the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to weigh the negative consequences its recommendation will have on the unity and security of the nation and advise Mr President that Nigerians are not on the same page with him regarding the matter of open grazing. It is not too late to salvage the situation.
“It is now clear that there is a hidden agenda which only the Presidency knows. Otherwise, all the regions of the country have accepted the fact that open grazing of animals is no longer fashionable and should be banned to pave way for ranching, yet, the government at the centre is insistent that grazing reserves/cattle routes must be created across the country.
“On February 9, this year, the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) met and agreed that the current system of herding mainly by open grazing is no longer sustainable, in view of growing urbanisation and population of the country. The Forum consequently resolved to sensitise herders on the need to adopt ranching as the new method of animal husbandry.
“The 17 Governors of Southern Nigeria rose from their meeting in Asaba on May 11 also this year, with a ban on open grazing in the entire region. The Southern Governors equally adopted ranching as the alternative method of rearing animals.
“As it stands, the Presidency is the lone hand pushing for the continuation of open grazing and the return of cattle routes of the 1950s and 60s. The Presidency has, by its endorsement of open grazing, emboldened armed herders who lay claim to all lands in Nigeria as belonging to Fulani.”