In the aftermath of the attack on the Enugu town of Uzo Uwani by cattle herdsmen in which scores of people were murdered, the Enugu state government has come out to say unequivocally that grazing reserves for cattle will not be accepted in the state.
This was made clear when the Govenor of Enugu state, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi met federal legislative officials from the state. The state joins Oyo State, and Benue State in rejecting the bill.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State had earlier spoken out against the bill, saying that it goes against the Land Use Act and that his state has no land available for such reserves. He instead suggested that states were the herdsmen come from in the North may carve out portions of land for such if they wish.
Governor Ortom of Benue state has also said Benue state is not open to any grazing reserve rubbish.
Notable Southerners such as Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and publisher of Champion Newspaper, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu have also come out to condemn the herdsmen-related mass murders that have been occurring all over the country, as well as the plan to hand over other people’s ancestral lands to the herdsmen via the establishment of ‘grazing reserves’.
The consensus by many Southern Nigerians and people from the Middle Belt is that the government should instead give the herdsmen loans to go purchase land from consenting sellers in order to set-up cattle ranches.
It will be wonderful if the herdsmen can follow the example in Anambra State, were Igbo cattle farmers set up a cattle ranch in Umuchu, and that is the way to go. Not the government seizing people’s ancestral lands through an unfair law.
It is clear that ‘grazing reserves’ will never be accepted by the people of the Middle Belt and Southern parts of Nigeria, so, the Federal Government should just abandon the idea already. The grazing reserves proposal is an evil proposal that can cause serious Agatu and Uzo Uwani kind of problems (x 10) for generations yet unborn, and must never be passed into law.
Why is the suya seller welcome in every community in the South and Middle Belt? Because he pays for his suya stand like everyone else, so no one can accuse him of receiving preferential treatment because ‘his brother is President’. In fact, suya stands is one of the attractions Southerners usually show tourists as the taste of suya is really indigenous.
In Lagos for years suya stands like the University of Suya were celebrated because everybody saw the stands as pure business, and no one will ever come out and tell you his ancestral land was forcefully taken away from him to give to the suya seller as a cattle meat reserve.
Those pushing for ‘grazing reserves’ instead of cattle ranches for the herdsmen are really doing them a great disservice, politicizing their profession and making them very unpopular.
Equally bad , they are distracting the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari from concentrating on alleviating the problems of the masses. Now in the Southern part of the country, people freely accuse Buhari of encouraging his brothers to kill other Nigerians so that he can grant them their ancestral lands in the name of grazing reserves as a way of ‘settling the problem’.
Before now, President Buhari’s image was overwhelmingly that of an anti-corruption czar, and the last hope of the common masses of Nigeria.
Now the killings of people all over the country via herdsmen attacks, coupled with the proposal to create grazing reserves for the herdsmen is introducing a new image of the president as an ethnic champion rather than a nationalist anti-corruption champion.
President Buhari must find a way to introduce loans for commercial ranching to end all this and save his battared reputation. He mustn’t listen to anyone telling him of this evil called ‘grazing reserves’.
The (well founded) fear of the Southerner is that should he accept the ‘temporary’ grazing reserves in his ancestral land, he would be pushing himself into the kind of difficult situation I will describe below.
A man rented a new compound and built a gate there. His landlord’s sister, seeing that the rented out portion of their estate was now more secure than her own, rather than raise money to build a gate for the unrented portion where she was staying, came begging the tenant to allow her park her car in the rented part of the compound – just for a day.
She told him that in the evening she would come and drive it out. The unsuspecting tenant agreed.
However, when time came for the landlord’s sister to drive her car out, she began to shout that nothing would make her leave the rented part of the compound as it is still part of her family’s property.
The government has assured us that ‘grazing reserve’ is just a temporary solution for now, but what is temporary for now is very likely to turn to a ‘serious claim’ that would give future generations so much trouble, and from what we are seeing now result in serious bloodshed of generations yet unborn.
Let no lawmaker from the South and Middle Belt promote this evil bill. Let no governor allow himself to be bullied or hoodwinked into signing away what his ancestors suffered to get for future generations. It is not in the power of any governor to give away any ethnic group’s ancestral land to another – ancestral land in which he was not there when it became ethnic property.
A lot of kuds go to the governors who have so far impressed on this issue, because I am yet to see any Southern Governor do the most foolish thing a Southern Governor can do – support the signing away of his people’s patrimony.
The law makers, who have allowed the Apartheid bill to get to a Second Reading before some vigilant Nigerians noticed it are very disappointing and not to be trusted – until they show us we can trust them.
What were they afraid of that they kept mum while such evil proposals reached a Second Reading!? Thank God for vigilant Nigerians, because if the country had suddenly woken up to the signature of such a bill into law… hmm.
The architects of the grazing reserve bill must have thought that Nigerians are gullible fools. But by now, with the uproar against the abominable proposal, they must surely have read the handwriting on the wall, and would be regretting trying to introduce such an abominable law.