Governors and leaders of some key socio-cultural organisations in southern part of the country have rejected the proposed plan by the Federal Government to establish cattle colonies in all the states of the federation.
They described the arrangement as a ploy to forcefully snatch lands for the use of Fulani armed militia who, according to them, will sooner than later, unleash terror on their host communities.
They also warned state governments not to be naïve in embracing the proposal which they alleged was aimed at creating a large expanse of land for a group of terrorists.
It’s a strange, deceptive policy – Ebonyi Gov
Ebonyi State Government described the proposed cattle colony as a strange and deceptive concept designed to dispossess states of their treasure.
It therefore advocated the adoption of a ranching system as panacea for curbing the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers across the country.
Governor David Umahi, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Uzor, said, “The proposed cattle colony is strange to the state government because it is a deceptive arrangement to dispossess us of our precious lands.”
Ekiti, Abia, Imo also reject cattle colonies
Governors Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and leadership of Imo State House of Assembly have ruled out any plan to release land for the proposed cattle colonies.
Mr Fayose, who spoke through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Mr Lere Olayinka, said, Ekiti will not surrender its land for any cattle colonies.
He said, “We don’t give ponds to fish farmers; government does not give pens to poultry farmers, and does not give shops to traders because they are all businessmen.
“A cattle breeder should get a cattle ranch because he is a businessman. We will not surrender our land for any cattle colony.”
Mr Ikpeazu, who also spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Enyinnaya Appolos, said the state would reject plans to establish “any Fulani colony in Abia State.”
He said, “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 to farm.”
In its own reaction, leadership of Imo State House of Assembly has also said there is no law or bill before it seeking the release of lands for cattle colony, stressing that nobody can take over any place for the use of herdsmen in the state.
The Speaker, Mr Acho Ihim, through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Marcel Ekwezuo, said the legislature would guard against the type of an ugly scenario in the past where Fulani herdsmen took over lands in rural areas, claiming to have orders from above.
It is an insult to Nigerians – Afenifere
In a similar vein, pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, described the idea of the cattle colonies as an insult to Nigerians.
Secretary-General of the association, Mr Sehinde Arogbofa, noted that President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government was allegedly handling the issue of incessant clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and the farmers in some parts of the country with levity.
The Afenifere chieftain said the crisis that would be created with the creation of cattle colonies would be worse than the controversial open grazing system which had been rejected by many Nigerians.
Arogbofa stated, “The term colony is very insulting when defenceless people are being killed in their 20s and 30s by some armed men and their killers are not arrested. In fact, I don’t know how to describe it. I think they are only playing on words.
“It is very irritating and insulting to be throwing the idea of cattle colony at us. I think we should do the right thing; we should call a spade a spade.”
We don’t need cattle colonies in South-East – Ohanaeze
Also, pan-Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, asked the Federal Government to forget the idea of cattle colonies in the South-East geopolitical zone.
National Publicity Secretary of the group, Mr Uche Achi-Okpaga, told one of our correspondents in Enugu, that creating cattle colonies in areas, where animals are not bred, would lead to more problems.
Achi-Okpaga stated, “We have our local breed of cows in the South-East. They are herded and not allowed to cause damage. If they do, as may be rarely seen, it is at the owners’ risk.
“Why would anybody establish cattle colonies on our land? Is it to begin to create opportunity for further skirmishes? Ndigbo do not buy the idea at all.”
Meanwhile, Oyo State Government said it would examine the content and modality of the Federal Government proposed cattle colonies before allotting lands for the project.
The state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun, assured the people of the state that the government would take the right decision on the issue.
Kwara State Government, through Commissioner for Information, Mr Babatunde Ajeigbe, also said it would await details of the programme before taking a decision on it.
Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said the state government would also not take any decision until due consultation was done.