Count Benue out of your planned grazing reserve, Ortom tells presidency

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has asked the presidency not to involve his state in the planned grazing reserve.

The governor made the statement while reacting to a statement credited to Mallam Garba Sheu, a media aide to President Muhammad Buhari.

Shehu had earlier said that the federal government is working to rehabilitate the grazing reserve in the country.

While stating that in as much as he (Ortom) may not be able to stop the federal government’s plans on the rehabilitation of grazing reserve in other parts of the country, the governor, however, said that Benue should be counted out of the presidency plan.

Reasons, the governor said that in Benue, there is no land in the state that had been gazetted for grazing reserve.

Secondly, Ortom reminded the presidency that his state had since embraced ranching as the best global practice, adding that the policy had been widely supported by the Southern Governors Forum and other prominent Nigerians.

The governor further said that the federal government insistence in pushing the grazing reserve, grazing routes or RUGA policies show that it has a hidden agenda.

Ortom in the statement issued by his media aide, Terver Akase said, “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.

He emphatically said in the statement that “In Benue, we have embraced ranching as the viable alternative to open grazing and there is no going back on our resolve.

“Our ranching law which prohibits open grazing is Benue people’s reaction to the incessant killings, and it is also an instrument of development. The law was enacted by representatives of the people in the Benue State House of Assembly, in the exercise of its powers as provided for by Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“Part 2 of the Second Schedule reinforces the power of the State House of the Assembly providing that ‘a House of Assembly may make laws for the State with respect to industrial, commercial or agricultural development.’ The Law followed due process with public hearings and requisite opportunity for all stakeholders making input.

“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 fact must be established that grazing reserves or cattle routes are no longer tenable in the 21st century when Nigeria’s population far exceeds that of the fifties at a time these routes were contemplated.

“At present, the routes have been taken over by airports, roads, schools, hospitals, as well as markets, houses and other human activities. The country’s landmass has also reduced to less than 923 square kilometres with the excision of Bakassi to Cameroon. Besides, the international best practice of animal husbandry is ranching; and that’s the stand of Benue State.

Parts of the statement also read, “Ranching as a policy has the potential to launch Nigeria into 21st-century agricultural good practices. Today, open grazing is extinct in most countries of the world. In Europe, America, Asia and in many countries in Africa, pastoralism has long given way to ranching.

“How can Nigeria then still be battling with a problem of pastoralism that in other countries has been solved over a century ago?

“According to the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, India has 303 million cattle, Brazil, 226 million, China, 100 million, USA, 93 million, Argentina, 53 million and Australia 27 million.

“All these countries ranch their animals. Nigeria has less than 20 million cattle which can easily be ranched.

“Unfortunately, the cows are allowed to either roam the streets freely or encroach on people’s farms and other investments.


Count Benue out of your planned grazing reserve, Ortom tells presidency

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