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Southern states tackle FG over cattle colonies.

A number of states in the southern part of Nigeria, on Friday, said they wanted the Federal Government to explain what it meant by its decision to create colonies for herders and their cattle in their states.

Apart from these states, at least two others rejected the plan by the Federal Government to set up cattle colonies.

The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, during the week, announced plans to establish cattle colonies as a solution to incessant deadly attacks on farmers by Fulani herdsmen.

In separate reactions, on Friday, Delta, Oyo and Ebonyi states told Saturday Tribune that the Federal Government needs to explain clearly what it means by 'cattle colonies' and how it intends to implement the policy.

Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu and his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayodele Fayose said not an inch of their land would be released for the establishment of cattle colonies.

Rivers and Enugu states said they had chosen for now, to refrain from commenting on the Federal Government's plan until it becomes official.

We'll not cede any part of Abia for cattle colonies -Ikpeazu

Abia State governor, Ikpeazu, rejected the proposed plan to establish 'cattle colonies' for Fulani herdsmen and their cattle in the state.

The governor, speaking through his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr Enyinnaya Appolos, on Friday, said the state would not surrender any part of its territory to Fulani herdsman as colony for cattle.

'We reject any plan to establish cattle colonies for herdsmen in Abia State. We don't have enough land for our agricultural activities and our people want more land. Giving away any part of Abia land as a colony to herdsmen, wherever they may be from, will be most unjust and unfair treatment to Abia State and its people who are largely farmers.

'Such alien land occupation will also cause unrest and crisis that may grow beyond what we can handle when it happens. So, the best thing I think we should do is to reject such plans so that those behind it will know that,' he said.

No cattle colony in Ekiti -Govt

Ekiti State government was categorical in rejecting the idea of establishing a cattle colony within its borders.

'Ekiti State will not give an inch of its land as cattle colony. Cattle farming is a business like all other businesses. Whoever wants to do cattle business should go and buy land for ranching,' Lere Olayinka, the governor's spokesperson told Saturday Tribune.

We're yet to be educated on cattle colonies -Okowa

Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, stated that until the state government is well briefed on the modus operandi of the cattle colonies proposed by the Federal Government, it would not speak categorically on the issue.

Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor, Mr Charles Aniagwu, in a chat with Saturday Tribune, on Friday, however, said the state government would support anything that could halt clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the state.

'We need some form of education on cattle colonies. We don't understand what 'colony' means. It conjures the picture of prior 1914. So, we don't understand what 'colony' is. We believe that the cattle business should be done in tune with modernity.

'And so, we don't understand what colonies means except someone educates us so we don't comment in error. We need education on it and once we're educated, we'll take a position. Rearing cattle is a business and Delta State is a consumption destination.

'We'll align with anything that can stop communal clash and fight between herders and farmers in the state', Aniagwu disclosed.

We're still exploring the meaning of cattle colonies -Oyo govt

The Oyo State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Oyewole Oyewumi, said the state government would wait to understand the concept of cattle colonies before making its stance known.

He said the state was particularly exploring whether the cattle colonies advanced by the Federal Government would be enclosed or open and how the colonies were different from grazing reserves or cattle ranches.

'We really need to understand what cattle colonies mean. We are familiar with what grazing reserves or cattle ranches mean, but cattle colonies is a bit new to us. So, we need to understand what it means before we can take a position.

'Will the cattle colony be an enclosure, no matter how large, or a free range? The critical issue is whether it will be an enclosure or open.

'The whole idea is being explored and even the Federal Government is yet to take a final position on it. I believe the Federal Government is making consultations with various stakeholders in the federation, like the legislature and state governments.

'Let us understand what cattle colonies mean first. But I assure you that whatever decision we take will be in the interest of the people of Oyo State,' Oyewumi said.

We don't know what FG means by cattle colonies -Umahi

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State called on the Federal Government to shed more light on the proposed cattle colonies across the country for Fulani herdsmen and their cattle.

The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Emmanuel Uzor, said, 'The state government needs to be well educated on what the Federal Government meant by cattle colonies.

'We are not comfortable with the name 'cattle colony'. They should define 'cattle colony' for us. Is the 'cattle colony' going to be permanent? All these need to be explained to us because we do not have land'.

It is not yet a policy -Rivers govt

Rivers State government said the announcement of the Federal Government to create the cattle colonies in all states of the federation for herdsmen had yet to become a policy.

Mr Simeon Nwakaudu, the media aide to Governor Nyesom Wike, in a telephone chat with Saturday Tribune on Friday, said the statement to the effect of the planned establishment was not made by President Muhammadu Buhari but by the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh.

'I don't think this proposed cattle colonies would have much effect on the states in the southern part of the country but on the states in the North where cattle rearing is dominant.

'In any case, the pronouncement is a mere statement and not yet a policy and it has not taken any effect. The statement was also made by the Minister of Agriculture and not President Muhammadu Buhari,' he said.

Speaking in the same vein, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Emma Okah, said the state would always seek to 'promote and enhance the unity, togetherness and economic well-being of all Nigerians within the ambit of the law, fairness, equity and justice'.

He dismissed the fear being expressed in some quarters that the proposed cattle colonies might be part of an alleged ploy to promote the interest of a particular section of the country above that of the others, saying 'when we get to the bridge, we will cross it'.

We'll react when it becomes official -Enugu govt

Enugu State government declared that it would not make any comment for now on cattle colonies across the federation as proposed by the Federal Government, saying it would react whenever the statement becomes official.

The position was made known on Friday by the state Commissioner for Information, Bob Anikwe, who simply said, 'Well, it is not official. When it is official, then we will react'.

We'll nip in the bud killings by herdsmen in Ondo -Akeredolu

Speaking on the development, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State said his administration was taking steps to ensure that the phenomenon of killings allegedly by Fulani herdsmen is nipped in the bud.

The governor, speaking at the flag-off of the National Egg Production Scheme in Akure, said, 'Our state has had its share of the crisis but not on the horrendous scale whose odious effect continues to reverberate throughout the country.

'We will not tolerate any act of brigandage. We will defend the right of our people to engage in farming without let or hindrance of any sort.

'We will sanction with impassioned severity any acts which seek to tilt the balance of harmonious coexistence towards anarchy in the state. The full weight of the law will be brought to bear on criminal elements.

'Security forces have been fully mobilised to prevent the nefarious activities of nation-wreckers in our state. We will protect our citizens with such fervor as expected of true representatives.

'We, therefore, enjoin our people to go about their normal businesses and report, promptly, any suspicious movement of undesirable elements in their communities. All of us owe our country a duty to ensure peace while not ignoring issues of justice and equity.'

The state government, however, said cattle rearing would not be prohibited in the state, adding that plans were underway to regulate the activities of the herdsmen and their cattle to ensure peaceful co-existence of farmers and the herdsmen in the state.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture, Mr Akin Olotu, who disclosed this during a stakeholders' meeting, said the government had no plan to either ban grazing or restrict anyone from farming.

'We are not going to prohibit cattle-rearing in Ondo State; we are going to regulate it. It is not a crime to rear or own cattle in any part of the state, but it has to be done legitimately. It has to be done in such a way that someone's business is not used to destroy another person's business,' he said.

We have Yoruba/Fulani committee -Osun govt

In its own reaction, the Osun State government said it had a Yoruba/Fulani Relationship Committee which handles all issues between the two peoples.

'There are basic ways of handling things in terms of Fulani herdsmen and Yoruba farmers in Osun State. Whenever there is a threat, the committee intervenes quickly and issues are resolved on the side of justice', the state Commissioner for Information, Lani Baderinwa, said in a statement sent to Saturday Tribune.

While shying away from directly commenting on the Federal Government's decision to set up cattle colonies, the commissioner said 'it is almost certain' that the committee system in place 'will prevent any crisis between Yoruba farmers and Fulani herdsmen, God willing'.

Cattle colonies surreptitious move to force grazing reserves on Nigerians -Hon Kaze

A former member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Bitrus Kaze, has described the decision of the Federal Government to establish cattle colonies across the country as a surreptitious move to force the 'unpopular' National Grazing Reserves policy on Nigerians.

The former federal lawmaker, in an interview in Jos, said the idea was originally mooted by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, in December 2016.

'Whereas the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Usman, claimed from the onset that the Army Grazing Ranches have nothing to do with herdsmen and local communal clashes, both the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said it was about communal conflict which government wanted to halt,' he said.

According to him, the foregoing brought to the fore, the 'capricious' trend of the present administration in pursuing its favourite policy, notwithstanding the perpetual killings by herdsmen.

'The framers of the 1999 Constitution unmistakably conferred a constitutional status on the Land Use Act which continues to apply as any other constitutional provisions.

'Assuming it is true that 16 unnamed states of the federation are willing to provide lands for cattle colonies, it falls short of the required two-thirds majority of each floor of the national as well as state assemblies for such a policy, which necessarily requires the alteration of our ground norm, to be initiated.

'The point has been abundantly adumbrated that the conflict between Nigerian farmers and herders is a conflict of equal stakeholders. Only the All progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government can explain its unrepentant quest to deploy the federal might in furthering the cause of the herdsmen over the farmers,' he added.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:Jan 13, 2018
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