From Msughshima Andrew, Makurdi

Benue stakeholders again rejected the Federal Government’s proposed National Livestock Transformation Plan, (NLTP), saying it is RUGA in diguise.

The stakeholders drawn from the traditional institution, the church, socio-cultural organisations, the academia and civil society organizations stated their position on Wedsnesday, during an interface with a delegation from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Government House, Makurdi.

Speaking on behalf of the traditional rulers, Tor Lobi, Chief Moses Anagende and Tor Kwande, Chief Ambrose Iyortyer, said what was best for the Federal Government was to rebuild homes, schools, churches and other property destroyed during herders invasion of the state and to rehabilitate the highly traumatised displaced persons who are still languishing in Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps.

They stated that the document detailing the NLTP and its implementation only talks about cattle and no other category of livestock, stressing that the plan was a reintroduction of the rejected Ruga settlements and cattle colonies for herdsmen.

Professor Amstrong Adejo of the Benue State University stated that the word livestock as captured in the document was holistic but the conclusion was particular about cows, saying the document was a proposal which he advised the Benue State Government to set up a committee to disect it and bring up Benue’s position.

Representing Civil Society Organisations; (CSO), Mrs. Josephine Habba wondered why Benue had recently been a theatre of killings  while the federal government looked the other way.

She therefore expressed shock that whike the Federal Government was yet to address the lingering security isaues in Benue as well as the plight of those who suffered the attacks, it had brought an architect to redesign structures for pastoralists in the state.

Others including Archbishop Yimam Orkwar, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria in Benue State, Reverend Akpen Leva, President Mdzough u Tiv, Chief Edward Ujege and former House of Reps member, Mrs. Rebecca Apezan, lamented that security men now escort the Benue people to bury their loved ones because herdsmen have occupied the people’s ancestral homes.

She described the NLTP as Ruga in a different regalia insisting that it should be rejected.

Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Timothy Ijir said Benue was evolving its Agricultural Development Policy which captures the people’s interest.

Earlier, Special Adviser to the Governor on Development Cooperation, SDGs and NEPAD, Dr. Magdalyne Dura, during welcome address, stated that the meeting was to explain to the stakeholders in details the LTPS document which had been made available with implementation guidelines, stressing that states were at liberty to domesticate the policy based on their peculiarities.

Head of the Federal Government delegation, Dr Nyager had earlier briefed the Benue stakeholders on the National Livestock Transformation Plan saying it was aimed at promoting animal husbandry in the country.

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