By Temidayo Akinsuyi
Leaders of the Southern and Middle Belt parts of the country under the aegis of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum have condemned the decision of the Federal Government to spend N170 billion taxpayers’ money to build ranches for herdsmen in the country.
They, however, said it is good development that the Federal Government has finally realised that open grazing is archaic and does not conform with modern best practices where rearing of cattle is concerned.
The leaders in a statement signed by Yinka Odumakin (South-West), Senator Bassey (South South), Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South East) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo for the Middle Belt said failure of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to implement the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference which recommended ranching as the best solution to the farmers, herdsmen clashes has led to needless loss of human lives from rampaging Fulani herdsmen.
The statement reads, “Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum commends the coming to terms with modernisation by the Federal Government in embracing ranching for cattle rearers against the erstwhile insistence on archaic open grazing and old century cattle routes.
“The 2014 National Conference had reasoned out this matter and recommended ranching as it is done in all civilized societies. The decision to ignore this sensible recommendation has led to a situation where untold terror has been unleashed on farming communities with needles loss of hundreds of lives in the last three years with not a soul under prosecution and top functionaries of the administration making excuses for the killers.
“We, however, object to the Federal Government decision to spend N179 billion of public funds to build these ranches over ten years starting with N70 billion under this administration”.
Giving reasons for its rejection, the leaders said it is absurd for the Federal Government to utilise tax payers’ money in building ranches when cattle rearing is a private business with no record of tax being paid by the owners.
“Cattle rearing is a private business in which individuals make billions of naira with no record of what they pay as taxes. And it is unfortunate that the Federal Government was making this vexatious declaration while receiving the chief executive officer of Friesland Campina of Netherlands without bothering to find out that it was put together by cooperatives with roots going back to 1879 and is one of the world’s top five dairy companies with annual revenue of 11 billion Euro.
“It is only reasonable that those who want to engage in the business should approach the states where they want to build ranches and acquire land to build such with firm commitment to abide by the rules of host communities.
“Rewarding the herders with public funds to build ranches would only mean that they have killed enough to beat the country into pacification mode. And this can only encourage other people to arm themselves, cause sufficient killings to get undue concession.
“What would our society become if fishermen, farmers and people in other trades begin to cause bloodbath so the Federal Government could give them special consideration?
“We call on the Federal Government to shelve the idea of committing public funds on ranches and allow the owners of the business to attend to their business needs in the spirit of ‘I belong to everybody’ mantra of the president.
“To go ahead with the plan is to say that cattle owners own this government and that would make other segments of society to say ‘we have no inheritance in this arrangement’”, the forum said.
Source: Daily Independent