Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has insisted that the North-central state would not provide any land for the establishment of grazing reserves for cattle.
Naija News reports that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had said the federal government plan to commence rehabilitation of grazing reserves in the country.
But reacting in a statement on Tuesday, Ortom described the move by the federal government as shocking, stressing that Benu is not part of any grazing reserves rehabilitation programme.
According to the governor, the state has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements.
He said: “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.”
The governor wondered why the federal government would consider reopening grazing routes for cattles when people are calling for a national dialogue to address the fundamental issues rocking the nation.
He stated that there must be a hidden agenda which only the Presidency knows for it to be bent on creating grazing routes and reserves despite states agreeing that open grazing is outdated.
Ortom said: “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 sensitize 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 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.”