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Southern & Middle Belt leaders reject livestock plan, waterways bill

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Osun court sentences five to death for killing Fulani cow seller

Southern and Middle Belt Leaders have rejected the recently inaugurated National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) meant to replace the controversial Ruga settlements for herdsmen across the country.

The leaders who took the decision in a joint statement issued at the end of their meeting in Abuja, said that the plan doesn’t make any economic sense, even as they alleged that there is an agenda behind it.

The statement which was signed by Yinka Odumakin for the South West, Prof Chigozie Ogbu for the South East, Senator Bassey Henshaw for South South and Dr Isuwa Dogo for the Middle Belt said it was preposterous for the government to use the collective wealth of Nigerians to fund herdsmen, majority of whom are not Nigerians.

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“Meeting restates the rejection of SMBLF to the use of the collective resources of Nigerians to convert herdsmen, majority of whom are non-Nigerians, from nomadic to sedentary lifestyles while doing their private business that has nothing to do with the rest of us beyond being their market. It is akin to government making budgetary allocations to Coca Cola to produce drinks to sell to Nigerians,” the statement said.

“There is the issue of citizenship which the unthoughtful exposition of Bauchi Governor, Bala Mohammed, that Fulanis from all over Africa are going to benefit from the scheme.

“The Fulani man is a global or African person. He moves from Gambia to Senegal and his nationality is Fulani…So we can not just close our border and say the Fulani man is just a Nigerian”

“Why are we closing our border with Benin Republic where there are many people of Yoruba origin there? Are Igbos who are aborigines in Haiti to come to Nigeria without consular services? What is the contribution of those Fulani imports to the development of Nigeria to come and live on our resources when our citizens are the poorest on earth? Why is it difficult to apply common sense in our inter-ethnic relations in Nigeria?” The meeting asked.

“The above shows clearly that NLTP will only escalate the clashes between the indigenous communities and cattle settlers as experiences in Southern and Middle Belt areas of Nigeria have shown that the Fulani imports do not assimilate into the ways of lives of Nigerians in those parts of the country where they reside. They live apart from the locals and set up communities with alien culture that disrupts the cultural flow of the indigenes.

“The subterfuge of the whole deal is exposed in that while government officials deceive Nigerians that the plan will stop open grazing for ranching, option 1 in it provides for the establishment of corridors for migrant cattle with feeding and watering points along the routes. This is as stark as the lie that “livestock” includes other sources of meat. The entire plan is about cattle and herdsmen.”

The leaders also rejected the proposed Waterways Bill which seeks to handover control of the country’s waterways to the federal government, even as they insisted that the government must allow those who are in cattle business establish ranches on their own under the guidelines and laws of the host state.

“The Waterways Bill is another land-grabbing move like RUGA by ethnic supremacists who are working against the unity of the country. Major rivers in Nigeria can be made available, by Federal law if the bill is passed, to Fulani pastoralists and there is nothing the indigenous people within such vicinities can do about it,” the leaders said.

“The Police and the security agencies will be handy to enforce it and it will be another White farmers versus the African landowners scenario in Southern Africa during the Apartheid season.

“It is a recipe for unending armed conflicts. It also means the federal government can, wherever it identifies a large body of underground water (aquifers), decide to open a “Federal” water scheme, and no one can stop Fulani cattle owners from taking over such places.

“The “all people” in the bill also means that Pastoralists from any part of Africa, as explained by Bauchi Governor, can come and settle along the lush waterways of the Middle Belt and Southern protected by Nigeria’s Federal law to the detriment of indigenes who have for centuries depended on their natural resources for their livelihood.”

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