The Afenifere group, a pan Yoruba socio-political group has angrily told President Muhammadu Buhari to shelve the idea of reviving 368 grazing reserves in 25 states of the federation.
The group said the move by the Buhari government is simply a plan to waste taxpayers money on a project that the citizens had clearly rejected.
It also accused the President and his team of trying to forcefully take lands from states to implement an archaic Fulani agenda.
Naija News reports the group was reacting to President Buhari’s order on Thursday, August 19 which approved recommendations of a committee to review “with dispatch,” 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in the country, “to determine the levels of encroachment.”
The committee is headed by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.
However, Afenifere in a reaction on Friday which was contained in a statement by its Secretary-General, Chief Sola Ebiseni described the president’s move as “a sweet pipe dream in a fool’s paradise”.
It added that non-Fulani Nigerians are wise enough to read in-between the lines and see that the order is a move to dispossess them of their ancestral lands and force what they don’t want on them.
Rather than follow through with the plans, Afenifere advised the government of President Buhari to look for other ways to end the frequent clashes between herders and farmers rather than support an ethnic agenda over other ethnic groups in the country.
The statement reads: “The approval by President Muhammadu Buhari to review, with dispatch, 368 Grazing Reserves across allegedly 25 states in the country to determine the levels of encroachment did not surprise Nigerians.
“It does not also matter that having felt the pulse of the nation in his interview with the Arise television in June, the President is still wasting taxpayers scarce resources on a programme whose conception lacks all conceivable growth capacity.
“It is instructive that the recommendation and implementation committee is headed by Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff to the President who, in conjunction with Professor Attahiru Jega, during the first term of Buhari, presented a “Memorandum On Pastoralist-Farmers’ Conflicts And the search for peaceful Resolution” published in January 2018, which contained the same recommendations now being foisted on the nation.
“They have submitted, among other recommendations that “it is clear that Nigeria and indeed Africa have to plan towards the transformation of pastoralism into settled forms of animal husbandry.”
“The establishment of grazing reserves provides the opportunity for practising a more limited form of pastoralism and is, therefore, a pathway towards a more settled form of animal husbandry. Grazing reserves are areas of land demarcated, set aside and reserved for exclusive or semi-exclusive use by pastoralists”
Afenifere observed that the fresh move is worse than RUGA and other previous ideas of the current government which the southern people and their governors have clearly rejected.
“Currently, Nigeria has a total of 417 grazing reserves all over the country, out of which only about 113 have been gazetted. Thus, the present policy of the Buhari administration on Grazing Reserves is the implementation of the script by the Fulani intelligentsia.
“The recommendations which pandered to deceptive national solutions to orchestrated farmers/herders clash, nonetheless reek of the odiferous stench of ethnic agenda for settlement of the Fulani in the ancestral lands of other ethnic nationalities.
“The non-Fulani Nigerians are not stupid, as the Federal Government, probably imagine, not to know that the concept of Grazing Reserve, by the Gambari and Jega definitions above, is a worse form of official dispossession of their ancestral lands for the inheritance and use of the Fulani than Cattle Colony, RUGA and Grazing Routes which they have roundly rejected.
“We recall and support the resolutions of the Nigerian Governors, particularly from the south of the country, banning all forms of open grazing and it does not matter to us that some elected governors, in a federation, would condescend so low to function as members of a Committee presided over by an appointed aide of the President, no matter the name in which his office is painted.
“The concept of Grazing Reserves, otherwise known as Hurumi, which was introduced during the colonial and immediately after independence failed in the north particularly in the Middle Belt provinces, notwithstanding a monolithic one North government and permissive land-use regime.
“For the umpteenth time, let the President be told that the constitution which he reveres relentlessly and the Land Use Act which derives equal force therefrom, extols the majesty of the people over their land.
“Even the Governor who holds the land in his state in trust for the people cannot dispossess any citizen thereof, except for proven overriding public interest through the due process of law.
“The current exercise is not only a waste of taxpayers money but also a sweet pipe dream in a fool’s paradise. Every herder has a state of origin. Let the governments of the respective states make arrangements for settled life for them in the territory where the culture is fully appreciated,” the statement added.