Benue tribal leaders reject FG’s N179bn cattle ranches project
Makurdi—Tribal leaders in Benue State, on the platform of the Mdzough U Tiv, MUT, Idoma National Forum, INF, and Omi Ny’Igede, ONI, have rejected Federal Government’s proposal to use over N179 billion to construct ranches in 10 states, expressing fear that the proposal could be a plan to grab and hand over Benue land to herdsmen in the guise of ranches.
In a statement, yesterday, by the leaders of the three tribes— Chief Edward Ujege, President-General, MUT; Chief Amali Amali, President-General, INF, and Chief Ben Okpe, President General, ONI— they insisted that the provisions of the Benue Grazing Law should be the benchmark for grazing in the state.
This came as Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in a statement by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to exercise caution and hold further consultations before going ahead with the N179 billion ranches project.
Meanwhile, the statement by the three tribe leaders in Benue Sate read in part: “The proposal is for the Federal Government to establish pilot cattle ranches in 10 states, including Benue, and it has a 10-year plan estimated to gulp N179 billion.
“While we appreciate the position of the Federal Government to accept ranching as the global best method of animal husbandry, which has been our position in Benue State, we reject the idea to use public funds to construct ranches for a private business of cattle rearing.
“We wish to state that cattle rearing remains a private business in the world and Nigeria in particular, just like crop farming, and should be treated as such.”
PDP preaches caution
PDP, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to exercise caution over its plan to establish cattle ranches in some states of the federation, urging it to hold enough consultations to avoid an escalation of the same problems the ranches are intended to solve.
The party also expressed worry that the move is already eliciting discordant tunes and acrimony among major stakeholders, groups and states, particularly in the areas of funding and land ownership.
In the statement by PDP’s spokesperson, Ologbondiyan, the party expressed worry over what it termed “a lack of adequate consultations by Federal Government resulting in the disagreements that have trailed the plan, especially along ethnic divides.”
The party called on government “to get its acts together and follow all due processes, as stipulated by the laws and the 1999 Constitution (as amended) regarding this issue, to eliminate the current disagreements being generated.”