FG’s Cattle Ranches: Gov. Umahi, Oyo Ex-Speaker, Oke Ogun Elders Oppose

The Federal Government’s decision to establish cattle ranches in some parts of the country has met a groundswell of oppositions from different people.

This came as Dr. Akin Onigbinde, a former speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly has advised the state government against reported plans to provide lands to the Federal Government for the establishing cattle ranches in the state.

The Federal Government, last week, unveiled the plan, expected to cost N179 billion over a 10-year period, to improve livestock production in the country and put an end to herders/farmers’ crisis.

Adamawa, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Oyo, Plateau, Taraba and Zamfara states will receive interventions in form of ranches in the pilot phase.

In Ebonyi State, Governor David Umahi vowed to resist any attempt to convert land in the state into a cattle ranch by the Federal Government.

The governor had said, “This is the time to call a spade a spade. Those clamouring for creation of grazing zones across the country should have a rethink. It is against the Land Use Act; it is against the law of natural justice to seize people’s land to cater to someone’s cattle.

“Grazing zones could be created for those who are traditional cattle rearers in their areas. I’m not against that. But, you cannot come here and tell me you want to occupy our land for grazing zones. The land exists in our respective states and as such the rightful owners should decide what to do with them.”

In a statement by the Oke Ogun Council of Elders, OCE, the elders warned that the discord and possible bloodshed that such a proposition is likely to cause could be difficult to manage.

The council’s spokesman, Mr. Jare Ajayi said, “This is in sharp contrast to the promise made by Governor Abiola Ajimobi on April 26, 2016, while speaking during the launch of the ‘AgricOyo,’ the state’s agriculture initiative held at Paago, Iseyin, in Oke Ogun zone of the state.”

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Reacting to the federal government’s decision to create 94 ranches in 10 pilot states under the National Livestock Implementation Plan, the elders said: “The lasting solution advocated is to ban open grazing of livestock and to encourage livestock farmers to embrace modern ways of rearing animals which are ranching.”

“But this has to be by private arrangement and not something that would be created for livestock farmers by the government.”

But the Council of Elders maintained that the project “will create far greater problems than it will solve.”

Frowning at the insinuation that the Oyo State government is welcoming the idea, Oke Ogun Council of Elders reminded Governor Abiola Ajimobi of his position on the issue on April 26, 2016 while speaking during the launch of the ‘AgricOyo,’ the state’s agriculture initiative which was held at Paago, Iseyin, in Oke Ogun zone of the state.

Oke Ogun Council of Elders (OCE) asked the governor to stand by this position. “What has changed between 2016 when this statement was made and now? If anything, there are more cogent reasons now not to accommodate the kind of grazing zones or ranches being proposed by the federal government” the release averred.

“In any case both the federal and Oyo State governments should know that there is no land of any size in Oke Ogun for the kind of ranches being proposed. We cannot allow ourselves to be run over.”

Similarly, a former Speaker of the Oyo Assembly said the issue of domesticating ranches in some parts of the country was one of the reasons why many Nigerians have been calling for the restructuring of the country.

Onigbinde said this while featuring on a radio programme in Ibadan.

He said, “I think it is important to warn the Oyo state government over the report that they want to allow the federal government’s programme to create ranching in certain parts of the country.

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“This is a decision that is so important for the State House of Assembly to be included because they are the people that represent the state and must have a say on whatever becomes of our lands in the state.

“When you have a restructured Nigerian, each of the federating units will take its destiny in its hand. For instance, Oyo state as a federating unit will be able to take its destiny in its hands especially where the issues of security are concerned.”