•Igbo, Middle Belt, Yoruba groups reject FG’s plan
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has rejected the Federal Government’s N70 billion plan to establish pilot cattle ranches in 10 states.
The group, which comprises Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the Middle Belt Forum, said in a statement jointly signed by Senator Bassey Henshaw, Yinka Odumakin, Prof Chigozie Ogbu and Dr. Isuwa Dogo, that SMBLF objects to government’s decision to spend public funds to build ranches.
On Tuesday, the federal government, announced plans to establish pilot ranches in Adamawa, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Oyo, Plateau, Taraba and Zamfara states and said it would shop for N70 billion to commence the project which it said would permanently solve farmers-herders crises.
But, the SMBLF has rejected the plans and advised the government to adopt recommendations of the 2014 National Conference.
Although the group commended the government for embracing ranching, it, nevertheless, said cattle rearing is the private business where individuals make money.
“We commend the coming to terms with modernisation by the Federal Government, in embracing ranching for cattle rearers, against the erstwhile insistence on archaic open grazing and old century cattle routes.
“The 2014 National Conference had reasoned out this matter and recommended ranching as it is done in all civilized societies.
“The decision to ignore this sensible recommendation has led to a situation where untold terror has been unleashed on farming communities with needless loss of hundreds of lives in the last three years with not a soul under prosecution and top functionaries of the administration making excuses for the killers.
“We, however, object to the federal government’s decision to spend N179 billion of public funds to build these ranches over 10 years starting with N70 billion under this administration.
“Cattle-rearing is private business in which individuals make billions of naira with no record of what they pay as taxes and, it is unfortunate that the federal government is making this vexatious declaration while receiving the Chief Executive Officer of Friesland Campina of Netherlands without bothering to find out that that it was put together by cooperatives, with roots going back to 1879 and is one of the world’s top five dairy companies with annual revenue of 11 billion Euro.
“It is only reasonable that those who want to engage in the business should approach the states where they want to build ranches and acquire land to build such with firm commitment to abide by the rules of host communities. Rewarding the herders with public funds to build ranches would only mean that they have killed enough to beat the country into pacification mode and this can only encourage other people to arm themselves and cause sufficient killings to get the undue concession.
“What would our society become if fishermen, farmers and people in other trades begin to cause bloodbath so the federal government could give them special consideration?
“We call on the federal government to shelve the idea of committing public funds on ranches and allow the owners of the business to attend to their business needs in the spirit of “I belong to everybody” mantra of the president.
“To go ahead with the plan is to say that cattle owners own this government and that would make other segments of society to say “we have no inheritance in this arrangement.”’ (The Sun)