To Accept Or Reject Propose Kogi Cattle Colony – By Shaibu Stephen Ojate
Nigeria the most populous country in Africa has experienced security challenges over the years. The security problem posed to the country by the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency seems to dwindle with the coming of President Muhammad Buhari who has not left any stone untouched as he indeed deployed his military experience to quench the rising spate of suicide killing and bomb blast in the country.
Despite the giant achievement of the President in nailing Boko Haram insurgents to the cross, one other which has become a recurring decimal and even a night-mare to Nigerians these days is the issue of Fulani herdsmen who are found wanting in invading farm land, destroy crops and sometime kill Farmers for dare resisting cattle grassing the farm crops.
It is instructive to note that the issue of herdsmen and farmers clashes predated President Muhammad Buhari’s administration as former President Jonathan experienced it too during his own time. Recall that with the rising cases of killing during Fulanis and Farmers crises, the previous administration in a bid to address the menace mooted the idea of establishing Ranches for the Cattle Rearers in the Country.
Former President Jonathan did not stop at this as he mandated the Central Bank of Nigeria to disburse N100Bilions to Governors for the establishment of Ranches in their respective States. The move was primarily aimed at settling Cattles in one place for rearing so as to minimize frequent killing of people on an account of Fulani herdsmen and Farmers’ clashes.
The former Governors of these respective States who were of different political affiliations then did not establish the Ranches in their States as the said fund was presumed to have gone in to the private pockets.
With the renewed killing of people by Fulani herdsmen across States of the federation in the recent time, there has been debate as to whether the present administration should go ahead and dust the recommendation of the previous administration on the establishment of Ranches in every States of the federation.
As the debate lingered, the Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has declared open to the public and even paid visitation to presidency that he is ready to kick start the pioneer Ranching Project in Kogi State. The declaration of Governor Bello in this regard has generated mix reaction across the sections of the State.
Some have condemned the planned Ranches in Kogi State while others were of the view that the project is a welcome development as Fulani herdsmen are also Nigerians who are free to reside in any part of the Country.
Disturbed by the above subject matter, I deem it feet to take my pen to paper to express my feeling on the said project. I must start by saying that Nigeria operates federal system of government and each component unit is chaired by the Governor. The Governors of these States place the interest of their citizens first before others. Also in States across the federation, Lands are owed by communities, clans and sub clans in most cases too. I can vividly recall that anytime any administration wants to establish any project in any community, these respective clans must be consulted for the land acquisition.
Going by my explanation on the acquisition of Land, if the State Governor still intends to go ahead with the planned Ranches, he needs to contact these respective Land owners for the Cattle Colony project. These Clans will in turn debate among themselves as to whether to permanent release their Land for project or not. I have a question to ask here, will these clans be ready to release their portion of their Lands to government for the Cattle Colony project when they know that the Fulanis shall occupy it and never to be farmed by them again?
Even if Governor Bello forcefully acquires any Kogi land for the Ranching project, whose interest will he be advancing or protecting in this case? Let me also alert Governor Bello that long dream of Ebira people to clamour for the power shift and to have a taste of the number one seat in the State was not for the fun of it. Kogi Central people agitated for power shift to create an avenue for them to bring developmental projects to Kogi Central just like how past Governors of the State have done which led to the establishment of Kogi State University, Ayigba.
Going by my saying, will the citing of Cattle Ranches in Kogi Central be a thing of joy to Ebira people? Will this administration counts it as dividends of democracy to Kogi State? Will history remembers Governor Bello’s administration for good for forcefully giving our ancestral Lands to Fulani herdsmen on the guise of Ranches and who tomorrow will in turn clash with our Villagers and drag rightful ownership of the said portion of Land allotted to them?
If the answers to the above questions are not on the positive side, I strongly advise my dear Governor to trend softly on the propose Cattle Colony. Governor Bello should be reminded that he owes entire Kogi people all sense of responsibilities and not Fulanis herdsmen and their Cattle Owners. Let me therefore remind him that going ahead with the planned Cattle Colony in Kogi State will spell doom for his administration as it will rubbish all his good works so far in the State. His insistence on establishing Cattle Colony shall de-market him in the next Kogi election as his opponents shall use that to campaign against him. The implication of this that those who did not buy the idea of the Cattle Colony project in Kogi Central and Kogi as a whole would rise in union to vote against your re-election.
To conclude, I must make it clear that Ebira people have had enough crises inter-communal and chieftaincy tussle crises which had led to the loss of lives in the time past. For the reason, the Kogi central people cannot afford to embrace the planned Cattle Colony which will tomorrow triggered up Fulanis and Ebira people crises.
I therefore task Governor Bello to use his good connection with President Buhari to echo to his ears to ensure the completion of Ajaokuta Steel and Itakpe Iron Ore Companies both situated in Kogi State. He should also on his part bring Kogi State University of Technology to Kogi Central as Ebira people are not known for rearing of Cattle and as such Cattle Colony is not our priority.
Shaibu Stephen Ojate is a Journalist and Public Affairs Commentator writes from Abuja. He is Facebook and reachable via phone number 09075716236.
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