Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has declared that 16 states have endorsed the proposed colonies for herdsmen.
Although he didn’t name the states, the minister also clarified that contrary to views in certain quarters, the measure was not deigned to transfer communal land ownership to Fulani herdsmen, but to curb the incessant bloody clashes with farmers.
Since the pronouncement of the By Taiye Odewale Abuja The federal government, yesterday, declared that the implementation of the N8.612trillion 2018 Budget will face challenges if not speedily passed by the National Assembly.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, dropped the hint while briefing journalists shortly after a budget defence before the Senate Committee of Federal Character, at the National Assembly, Abuja. He hinged his position on 2019 being the electioneering year, with politicians getting set for campaign.
“The 2018 Budget proposals need to be expeditiously considered and passed by the National Assembly this January as requested by the President, so as to have ample time to implement it before politics sets in. “Already, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had proposed policy, there have been outrage and tension with speculations of an ulterior motive and plot by the federal government to forcefully collect land nationwide and hand over same to the herdsmen.
The measure was announced in the wake of the New Year massacre in some Benue communities, where close to hundred persons were killed. For instance, the duo of Governor David Ortom of Benue and his Taraba counterpart, Darius Ishaku have consistently opposed the colonies, saying the anti-grazing law, especially in Benue, was already working.
But receiving the Plateau state Governor, Simon Lalong yesterday in his office in Abuja, the minister said there was no truth in the speculation that government was conspiring to grant ownership of communal land to Fulani herdsmen.
“Ranching is more of an individual venture for those who want to invest, but cattle colony is bigger in scope and size. It is going to be done in partnership with state governments who wish to be part of it. Already, 16 states have volunteered land.
Nobody is going to seize land from any community for the project,” he noted. “Cattle colony is not using Fulani herdsmen to colonise any state. It is going to be done in partnership with state governments that would like to volunteer land for it. Federal government will fund the project and those wishing to benefit from it will pay some fees,” the minister further explained.
Ogbeh further clarified that the idea of the cattle colonies was conceived both as a measure to stop the clashes between herders and farmers, and as a platform for government to make more commitments to the development of the livestock subsector.
He said, while cattle ranching is more of an individual venture for the herdsmen and those wishing to invest in the livestock sector, cattle colony is a larger project where up to 40 ranchers can share same facility that will be provided by the government at a reduced rate.
The minister also explained that government is funding the project to facilitate the development of agriculture value chain with the modern facilities that will be in the cattle colonies.
Earlier in his remarks, Governor Lalong who confirmed that he was in the ministry to understand the new policy of cattle colony said his state will participate in the project provided it has the lasting solution to the herdsmen and farmers’ clashes.
Lalong, while lamenting the absence of standard abattoir in Plateau, also confirmed that though the Land Use Act of the country invests the right of ownership in the governor of the state, no community will be made to lose ancestral home for any purpose to anybody. According to him, even in the cattle ranching policy which his state had started implementing, no communal land was forcefully taken from any community.