Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State

Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has berated President Muhammadu Buhari over his latest move to create grazing reserves for Fulani herdsmen across the country.

Buhari had on Thursday, announced the approval for a committee to review ‘with dispatch’ the 368 grazing sites across 25 states in the country, a move that has been opposed by many Nigerians.

Reacting to the decision in a statement through his spokesman Terver Akase on Friday, Ortom said it has now become clear that the presidency wants to plunge the country into avoidable crisis.

“We were shocked and disappointed to read a statement from the Presidency indicating that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved recommendations of a committee to review ‘with dispatch,’ 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in the country, to determine the levels of encroachment,” he said.

“In a country where insecurity has reached an all-time high with hundreds being killed by armed herdsmen, bandits and other terrorists, the Presidency is 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. This 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?”

The statement noted that millions of Nigerians have been displaced following attacks by armed herders and are currently suffering in IDP camps, stressing 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 dehumanizing conditions in open fields.

It added, “The Buhari administration does not seem to be worried about the food crisis already ravaging the country. 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.

“We expected the pitiable condition of the displaced people to be the preoccupation of the President whom they voted in 2015 and 2019. It 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.

“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 prioritizes the welfare of cattle over human beings and is bent on taking Nigeria back to the precolonial era. The country has been turned to a cow republic by the present administration.

“The Federal Government introduced the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) and Nigerians accepted the policy. Why has the Buhari administration dumped the programme and opted for grazing reserves and cattle routes?

“Governor Samuel Ortom has repeatedly stated that there is no land for grazing reserves or cattle routes in Benue State. Though the Federal Government craftily concealed the names of states where Mr President has ordered that grazing reserves be foisted on the people, we wish to categorically state that no part of Benue will be allocated for grazing reserves or cattle routes!

“If President Buhari must actualize his cattle agenda in Benue State, he should be ready to kill all of us! We know that grazing reserves and cattle routes are the only project that the President has for Nigeria, but Benue is not interested in such a project.”


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