By Lateef Taiwo
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has described the National Grazing Reserves Council Bill, before the National Assembly as a land grabbing legislation deliberately designed to make Nigerians slaves in their own country to serve the selfish and parochial interest of herdsmen in the country.
The governor in Abuja yesterday, when Terna Tehermba, hosted him for his 62 birthday.
Ortom expressed worry that since 2016, which the presidency introduced the grazing reserve bill to the National Assembly which was rejected based on public outcry, it has not given up the idea of having the bill passed bringing it up using different names.
Ortom who urged members of the National Assembly to remain vigilant by resisting last minute attempts under whatever guise to pass the bill which seeks to deprive Nigerians of their God- given lands in favour of the pastoralists across the country, pointed out that if the current administration had concentrated on tackling insecurity in the manner it has pushed for the enactment of a cattle grazing reserves law, the country would have been safer for every Nigerian.
Ortom recalled that in November 2016, the Nigerian senate rejected what he described as controversial bill seeking to establish a Grazing Management Agency meant to ensure the creation of cattle grazing areas across the country, adding that in 2017 the federal government again attempted to influence the passage of a bill adorning the same regalia renamed National Grazing Routes and Reserves Bill, similarly rejected following the alarm that was raised by some patriotic Nigerians.
According to Governor Ortom, the federal government subsequently introduced the National Water Resources Bill, which came with a singular objective of bringing all water resources both surface and under ground as well as river banks under the control of the federal government a move he noted attracted an avalanche of condemnations from Nigerians.
He said the federal government again introduced Ruga, cattle colonies as well as approved in 2021 the recommendations of a committee to review with dispatch 368 grazing sites across 25 states in the country and to determine the levels of encroachment, adding that Benue and other states publicly rejected the presidential approval and the idea eventually lost steam.
” We understand that those who are bent on taking over the lands of Nigerians to give to pastoralists are looking for the opportunity to hastly pass the bill which they have now renamed National Grazing Reserves Council Bill” adding that the proposed law has been in the National Assembly after it was reintroduced and it’s sponsors sensing the mode and suspicions of the people have been trying to find the right moment to have it passed.
Ortom who said the National Grazing Reserves Council Bill is not only a violation of the Constitution and the Land Use Act but also a fang of impunity, subjection and deeply rooted conquest agenda against the Nigerian people, alerted that if passed by the NASS, the law will establish a council with the powers to take over land in any part of the country for grazing reserves and pay compensation to the land owners, adding that beneficiaries of the usurped land would be pastoralists whose animals would enjoy unfittered access to the land.
Ortom who emphasized that his position on national issues is borne out of patriotism and belief in fairness, justice and equity, urged members of the National Assembly to act as true representatives of their people for the sake of posterity by remembering that future of the nation lies in their hands.
He encouraged the federal law makers to remain dogged in their rejection of the bill and any other surreptitious attempt to mock millions of innocent Nigerians who have fallen victim to the occupation agenda.