The Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) yesterday rejected the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) of the Federal Government, maintaining that the policy makes no economic sense for the country.
The body queried the rationale behind the move by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration “to use the collective resources of Nigerians to convert herdsmen, majority of whom are non-Nigerians, from nomadic to sedentary lifestyles while doing their private business that has nothing to do with the rest of us beyond being their market. It is akin to government making budgetary allocations to Coca Cola to produce drinks to sell to Nigerians.”
Besides, the leaders said there were other fundamental problems inherent in the programme.
In a statement yesterday after a meeting in Abuja signed by its spokespersons, Yinka Odumakin (South West), Professor Chigozie Ogbu (South East), Bassey Henshaw (South-South), and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), the group deplored the seeming inability of government to “mobilise national consensus to confront the monumental tragedies bedeviling the country.”
The leaders claimed that the Buhari administration had instead been “busied itself with policies that are divisive and smack of domination and conquest of sections of the country by a section.”
The forum noted that the NLTP “will only escalate the clashes between the indigenous communities and cattle settlers as experiences in Southern and Middle Belt areas of Nigeria have shown that the Fulani imports do not assimilate into the ways of lives of Nigerians in those parts of the country where they reside.”
The group went on: “They live apart from the locals and set up communities with alien culture that disrupts the cultural flow of the indigenes.
“The subterfuge of the whole deal is exposed in that while government officials deceive Nigerians that the plan will stop open grazing for ranching, option 1 in it provides for the establishment of corridors for migrant cattle with feeding and watering points along the routes. This is as stark as the lie that ‘livestock’ include other sources of meat. The entire plan is about cattle and herdsmen.”
The SMBLF said it does not accept the policy and asked the Federal Government to allow those who are in cattle business to establish ranches on their own under the guidelines and laws of the host state.
The group also observed that the Waterways Bill was “another conquest agenda in sync with the NLTP.”
It considered vexatious the piece of legislation sponsored by the President and entitled, “A Bill for An Act to Establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria, Provide for the Equitable and Sustainable Redevelopment, Management, Use and Conservation of Nigeria’s Surface Water and Groundwater Resources and for Related Matter.”
The leaders alleged that “the Waterways Bill is another land-grabbing move like RUGA by ethnic supremacists who are working against the unity of the country. Major rivers in Nigeria can be made available, by federal law if the bill is passed, to Fulani pastoralists and there is nothing the indigenous people within such vicinities can do about it.”
They further claimed: “The police and the security agencies will be handy to enforce it and it will be another White farmers versus the African landowners scenario in South Africa during the Apartheid season.”