The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has said that there is no gazette land or cattle route in Benue State, therefore his state should be counted out of the proposed grazing reserves programme by the Buhari Administration.
Ortom insisted that if President Muhammadu Buhari must actualise his cattle agenda in Benue State, he should be ready to kill all its inhabitants.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, stated further that the state knows that grazing reserves and cattle routes are the only projects that the President has for Nigeria, but Benue is not interested in such a project.
The Governor was reacting to a statement credited to the Presidency which indicated that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the recommendations of a committee to review “with dispatch,” 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in the country, “to determine the levels of encroachment.”
Governor Ortom was not only shocked but disappointed at the statement.
He maintained that the Federal Government has no constitutional right to appropriate lands for itself or anyone else for that matter, without the approval of State Governors.
“The Land Use Act has made Governors the custodians of all lands in their states. Nigeria is practicing democracy, not despotism,” he added.
Of greater concern to the Governor is the fact that insecurity has reached an all-time high, with hundreds being killed by armed herdsmen, bandits, and other terrorists, yet the Presidency was only bordered about animals and their safety and is deploying all machinery and arsenals of government, to impose grazing reserves and cattle routes on Nigerians which is unacceptable!
“It is now clear that the Presidency wants to plunge the country into avoidable crisis. Otherwise, what is the justification for President Buhari’s insistence that grazing reserves be established across the country when Nigerians have openly kicked against the policy and have embraced ranching in place of open grazing?
“Millions of Nigerians have been displaced following attacks by armed herders and are currently suffering in IDP camps.”
He said that Benue State for instance has over 1.5 million displaced people with thousands living in camps and many more forced to flee their ancestral lands to stay under dehumanising conditions in the open fields.
“The Buhari administration does not seem to be worried about the food crisis already ravaging the country as farmers have been chased into IDP camps by herders and children are dying of starvation, yet what is more important to their President is the well being of cows.”
The Governor who expected the pitiable condition of the displaced people to be the preoccupation of the President whom they voted in 2015 and 2019, maintained that is unfortunate that the people’s love, trust, and votes for Mr. President are being rewarded with hate, cruelty and dictatorial policies, aimed at grabbing their lands to donate to herders and cows.
He challenged the Presidency to name what it has done to alleviate the plight of those displaced by herdsmen in Benue State since 2018.
“What is the difference between the Buhari administration’s approach to insecurity and the Taliban agenda in Afghanistan?
“It is now evident that the government at the centre prioritises the welfare of cattle over human beings and is bent on taking Nigeria back to the pre-colonial era.
“The country has been turned into a cow republic by the present administration,” Ortom opined.
He insisted that the country has never been more divided on ethnic lines and sentiments, as it is under President Buhari.
While noting that the President may not be aware that all the northern states including his home state Katsina and the entire southern states, have unanimously rejected open grazing of livestock and approved ranching, Ortom insisted the Presidency is whipping a dead horse on the issue of grazing reserves.
He said those saddled with the duty of advising Mr. President, have apparently failed in their responsibility.
“We also read the President’s comments yesterday at the National Security Council meeting, where he threatened to sack Security Chiefs for what he termed failure to tackle insecurity in the country.
“Why won’t the Security Chiefs fail when the body language of the Commander-in-Chief, points to a clan of sacred cows, who must be spared and given protection to perpetrate evil?
“How will the Security Chief succeed, when their formations are not well funded and the soldiers are left to confront terrorists who have superior weapons?
“If Mr. President indeed made the statement attributed to him, he was not being fair to the security agencies,” the statement noted.
He equally expressed disappointment over members of the committee, which recommended that grazing reserves be established in parts of the country, adding that they are the real enemies of Nigeria.