Benue State stakeholders have rejected the Federal Government’s proposed National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), alleging that its details show that it is nothing but Ruga settlements labelled with different name.
The stakeholders who were drawn from different fields, including the church, the academia, traditional institution, socio-cultural organisations, and civil society, expressed their feelings in Makurdi during an interactive session with a delegation from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The Tor Lobi, Chief Moses Anagende and Tor Kwande, Chief Ambrose Iyortyer, who spoke for traditional rulers, wondered why the Federal Government was only concerned about settling herdsmen while paying no attention to people displaced from their homes.
They argued that it was best for the government to rebuild homes, schools, churches and other property destroyed during herders’ invasions of the state and rehabilitate the traumatised and displaced persons still suffering in Internally Displaced Persons camps.
The stakeholders pointed out that the document detailing the NLTP and its implementation only talks about cattle and no other category of livestock, emphasising that the plan was a re-introduction of the rejected Ruga settlements and cattle colonies for herdsmen.
Speaking on behalf of the academia, Professor Amstrong Adejo of the Benue State University also argued that the plan, although should be about livestock, is particular about cows.
Also speaking, Mrs. Josephine Habba, representing the civil society organisations, expressed dismay that Benue has become a theatre of killings, and instead of the federal government addressing the plight of victims, brought an architect to redesign structures for pastoralists in the state.
Archbishop Yimam Orkwar who represented the church regretted that Benue communities were still being occupied by herdsmen.
He said the people now have to rely on security escort to bury their loved ones because of of herdsmen occupation of their ancestral homes.
Other speakers at the interactive session, including Reverend Akpen Leva, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria in the state; President, Mdzough u Tiv, Chief Edward Ujege and a former House of Reps member, Mrs. Rebecca Apdezan, all took turns to reject the proposed NLTP, while lamenting the plight of Benue people.