Governors of the South Eastern States, rose from a meeting at Enugu State Government House on Sunday, July 8, vehemently opposing the establishment of cattle ranches in the zone. They made it clear that no state in the region will donate to Federal Government proposed cattle ranches. Though Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State did not attend the meeting had governors David Umahi of Ebonyi State and his Enugu State counterpart, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, as well as the deputy governors of Anambra and Abia State in attendance.
Their nine-point communiqué, which stated that they would not accede to provision of grazing land, should the Federal Government come up with such a request, also bemoaned the massive destruction of farmlands by herdsmen and the huge funds their governments have been spending in setting the victims. The governors also called for a meeting with Government Security agencies on how to beef up security in the zone.
It has become obvious that the Federal government is trying to acquire such ranching land by legislation, and is looking out for any loophole in the Nigerian Constitution to carry out that which is not justifiable.
We commend the South East governors for rising to the occasion, by taking such a bold stand against Federal Government’s plan that communities across the country should provide lands for herdsmen to carry out what is entirely their private business. Nigerians are asking: Why is the Federal Government making cattle rearing its own project by expending public funds on it? Will government be prepared to persuade states and communities to provide lands equally for people of other trades, wherever they chose to carry out their businesses across the country? What is the proof that the plan for ranches for Fulani herdsmen is not part of the age-long grand design for territorial acquisition by Jihadists to get a foot hold in eastern Nigeria.
Our armed forces have on several occasions boasted that they have defeated Boko Haram terrorists and recaptured Sambisa Forest. What stops government from directing the herdsmen to go there to establish their ranches?
One finds it difficult to understand what cattle herders contribute to the socio-economic development of their host communities or the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to warrant the senseless killings and destructions they wrought in the name of grazing their cattle. They repatriate all their earnings to their home states and are not interested in investing any in their host communities.
It is sad to observe that while government feels for these herdsmen, the cattle rearers themselves don’t feel for those whose farms they destroy. There have been countless cases of cold blooded murder of farmers who refused to allow them turn their farms into grazing fields in places like Nsukka in Enugu State and Irete in Imo State.
People of the South East zone dread these herdsmen because they make bad neighbours, and are always ready to attack, main and kill at the least provocation. Besides all these, Ndigbo, who are predominantly crop farmers, don’t have sufficient land to cultivate their crops, talk more of surplus land to give out for cattle ranching. How can agriculture survive in this part of the country under such conditions?
We therefore call on the Federal Government to encourage the Fulani herdsmen to take to modern and more scientific methods of rearing animals which does not need their roaming about from place to place. The whole idea of providing land for cattle ranch in the South East is therefore unattainable as our people consider it as a ploy by the Fulani herdsmen to get a foothold in Igbo land, a security risk capable of overwhelming such communities when they attack them. That is why we must stop them by joining our governors to say, “No to ranching in the South East.”