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Buhari government’s grazing reserve plan has hidden agenda – Benue Gov Ortom

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Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom has reacted to media statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba
Shehu that the Federal Government would commence rehabilitation work on grazing reserves across the country next month.

The governor described the move as shocking and disappointing particularly at a time when insecurity was at its peak, wondering how reopening of grazing routes should be the solution as against the national dialogue.

In a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to governor, Terver Akase which was made available to Journalists on Tuesday, the governor asserted that Federal government’s hidden agenda has become obvious to Nigerians now.

The statement noted that Buhari was assiduosly working to realise his hidden agenda given that all the geopolitical zones and governors of his own political party have accepted that open grazing was no longer fashionable.

The statement noted: “We find the move not only shocking and curious but also as a misplaced priority.At a time the country is worried about the worsening security situation and many Nigerians are calling for national dialogue to address the fundamental issues that have led to the present state of affairs, the Federal Government considers the reopening of cattle grazing routes as the only solution available to it.

“It is now clear that there is a hidden agenda which only the Presidency knows. Otherwise, all the regions of the country have accepted the fact that open grazing of animals is no longer fashionable and should be banned to pave way for ranching, yet, the government at the centre is insistent that grazing reserves/cattle routes must be created across the country.

“On February 9, this year, the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) met and agreed that the current system of herding mainly by open grazing is no longer sustainable, in view of growing urbanisation and population of the country.

“The Forum consequently resolved to sensitize herders on the need to adopt ranching as the new method of animal husbandry.

“The 17 Governors of Southern Nigeria rose from their meeting in Asaba on May 11 also this year, with a ban on open grazing in the entire region. The Southern Governors equally adopted ranching as the alternative method of rearing animals.

“As it stands, the Presidency is the lone hand pushing for the continuation of open grazing and the return of cattle routes of 1950s and 60s. The Presidency has, by its endorsement of open grazing, emboldened armed herders who lay claim to all lands in Nigeria as belonging to Fulani, hence their invasion of farming communities and killing of original owners of such lands.

“The fact must be established that grazing reserves or cattle routes are no longer tenable in the 21st century when Nigeria’s population far exceeds that of the fifties at a time these routes were contemplated. At present, the routes have been taken over by airports, roads, schools, hospitals, as well as markets, houses and other human activities.

“The country’s land mass has also reduced to less than 923 square kilometers with the excision of Bakassi to Cameroon. Besides, the international best practice of animal husbandry is ranching; and that’s the stand of Benue State.

 

“We in Benue have embraced ranching as the viable alternative to open grazing and there is no going back on our resolve. Our ranching law which prohibits open grazing is Benue people’s reaction to the incessant killings, and it is also an instrument of development.

“The law was enacted by representatives of the people in the Benue State House of Assembly, in exercise of its powers as provided for by Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). Part 2 of the Second Schedule reinforces the power of the State House of the Assembly providing that “a House of Assembly may make laws for the State with respect to industrial, commercial or agricultural development.”

“The Law followed due process with public hearings and requisite opportunity for all stakeholders making input.

Ranching as a policy has the potential to launch Nigeria into 21st century agricultural good practices. Today, open grazing is extinct in most countries of the world.

“In Europe, America, Asia and in many countries in Africa, pastoralism has long given way to ranching. How can Nigeria then still be battling with a problem of pastoralism that in other countries has been solved over a century ago? According to the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, India has 303 million cattle, Brazil, 226 million, China, 100 million, USA, 93 million, Argentina, 53 million and Australia 27 million. All these countries ranch their animals. Nigeria has less than 20 million cattle which can easily be ranched. Unfortunately, the cows are allowed to either roam the streets freely or encroach on people’s farms and other investments.

“While we may not stop the Federal Government’s plan to rehabilitate grazing reserves or create cattle routes in other states, we wish to make it clear that no land in Benue State has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements. Benue is therefore not part of the grazing reserves rehabilitation programme of the Federal Government.

“We expect the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to weigh the negative consequences its recommendation will have on the unity and security of the nation and advise Mr President that Nigerians are not on the same page with him regarding the matter of open grazing. It is not too late to salvage the situation.

“We are concerned about the plight of millions of farmers who have been displaced as a result of herders’ attacks and are now in IDP camps; a development which is already adversely affecting food production.

“Benue State has over one million displaced people who are mostly farmers, and the task of returning them to their ancestral homes is what should bother the Ministry of Agriculture and other agencies of the Federal Government.”

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Let’s move on – Ningi Tells Colleagues On Resumption From Suspension

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Senator Abdul Ningi ( PDP Bauchi Central ), on resumption from suspension , told fellow Senators on Tuesday at plenary that ” It’s time to move on ” , just as the Senate President , Godswill Akpabio , said ” bygone should be bygone .

Senator Ningi made the ‘ time to move on ‘ assertion while expressing his appreciation to the Senate for recalling him from suspension after spending 75 out of 90 days slammed on him on March 12, 2024 at the committee of the whole .

Ningi who expressed his appreciation through Order 42 of the Senate standing rules , said he was in Turkey when he had of his being recalled from suspension.

He said : Mr President , Distinguished colleagues , I rise with profound humility to commend the Senate , its President , Senator Godswill Akpabio, the Senate leadership and the minority caucus for recalling me from suspension .

” I was in Turkey when the news got to me last week and I’m very much appreciative of the gesture .

” I’m happy to be back at home because National Assembly is like home to me , having served as House leader , Deputy Senate Leader in the past and now as one pf the Distinguished serving senators .

” I also thank my State Governor , Senator Bala Mohammed , the people of Bauchi State and other Nigerians who reached out to me in one way or the other during the period that has now been put behind “.

In his response , the President of the Senate , Senator Godswill Akpabio , on behalf of the Senate , said bygone should be bygone .

” Distinguished Senator Abdul Ningi , you are a very resourceful person needed in the 10th Senate , electorates from Bauchi Central Senatorial District voted you for .

” You are welcome and let bygone be bygone

The Senate had on Tuesday last week on the strength of motion sponsored by the minority leader , Senator Abba Moro on behalf of minority caucus , recalled Senator Ningi from the three months suspension .

Recall that Senator Ningi was suspended by the Senate at the committee of the whole on 2024 budget padding allegation leveled against the Senate during interview he had with the BBC Hausa service.

Apparently elated to be back in the Senate , Senator Ningi was among the first set of Senators and House of Representatives members to arrive the National Assembly for plenary on Tuesday .

Senator Ningi who along with some few other Senators like Suleiman Kawu ( NNPP Kano South) , Aminu Waziri Tambuwal ( PDP Sokoto South) etc , came into the National Assembly through the Villa Gate , arrived exactly at 10: 40am , 20minutes to 11:00am fixed for commencement of plenary which even started at about 12:10 pm .

However as a result of his suspension , Senator Ningi lost his Chairmanship position of the Senate Committee on National Identity and Population , which was allocated to Senator Mustapha Musa ( APC Yobe East ) ,two days after the now lifted suspension .

 

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Commissioner of Police Dies At Force Headquarters

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Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Mr. Abubakar Muhammad Guri was reported to have slumped and passed away on Monday at the Force Headquarters in Abuja.

According to sources, DCP Muhammad collapsed shortly after entering his office at the Louis Edet House, without displaying any prior signs of illness.

Eyewitnesses recounted that the late police chief, dressed in his uniform, collapsed on his seat within his office premises. Swift action was taken as fellow officers rushed him to the hospital for immediate medical attention.

Sadly, despite all efforts to revive him, DCP Muhammad was pronounced dead upon arrival at the medical facility.

An unnamed source familiar with the situation shared, “Some officers rushed him to the hospital and even before reaching there, he had already passed away.”

Despite the gravity of the incident, official statements from police authorities are yet to be issued regarding the untimely demise of DCP Muhammad.

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INEC Extends Voter Registration In Edo, Ondo

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Following a review meeting held with stakeholders, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), said it has extended voters’ registration for Edo and Ondo States respectively.

Registration was earlier slated to end on the 5th of June, 2024 in the two states.

However, a statement by the commission said following appeals by stakeholders, the date has been extended from Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th, June 2024, to allow more eligible persons to register.

The commission, similarly, extended the duration of the exercise from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm daily.

Furthermore, it said the number of centres has been increased beyond 397 wards, and the two states’ offices in Benin City and Akure to include all the 36 Local Government offices of the commission.

“More machines will also be deployed to areas identified to have peculiar needs such as difficult terrain or communal issues,” the statement partly said.

Like the ward registration centres, INEC explained that the detailed information on the names and location addresses of the LGA offices, have also been uploaded on its websites and social media platforms for the guidance of registration in the two states.

Meanwhile, the commission said the exercise is progressing in the two states.

It said, “As of Monday, 3rd June 2024, eight days after the commencement of the CVR, a cumulative of 120, 1458 new voters have registered. Of this figure, 55, 861 (46.4%) are male, while 120, 458 (53.6%) are female,”

It added that the majority of the 82, 003 registered voters, representing 68.8 per cent, are youth between the ages of 18-34 years.

In terms of occupation, 43, 419 or 36.8 per cent are students, while 812, 0.67 per cent, are persons with disability.

It, however, noted that the figures were preliminary, adding that the final figures will be published on a state basis and for all categories of registration at the end of the exercise, and after data clean-up, using Automated Biometric Identified System (ABIS).

 

 

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