Plateau ethnic groups kick against grazing reserve policy

The issue of National Grazing Reserve Establishment and Development Bill has continued to dominate public interest and national discourse and in turn affecting the common understanding among citizens, especially those living within the North Central  geopolitical zone of Nigeria.
The bill, which was introduced in 2011, was sponsored by Senator Zainab Kure in the National Assembly.
It is currently generating a lot of controversies, most especially when the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, was quoted to have listed states that have agreed to give out parcels of land for the purpose.
One of such states that is not finding the policy very funny is Plateau State.
This is because since the State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong, came out to inform the people that the new policy has advantages for states and they should key into it, there has been no end to the controversy it generated.
According to Lalong, those that would embrace the policy stand the advantage of securing soft loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria in addition to the job opportunities that would be created for the teeming youths as well as open ways for those who would as well want to rear livestock to do it at their own space.
But be that as it may, citizens of the state view it differently.
To some, it is an agenda of the All Progressives Congress and Muslims to take over their lands, a development that is currently tearing the state apart.
The threat now is that while government of the state still battles to convince its people, the people seem to be nursing grouse and not willing to accept the policy.
Of recent, the Berom, Tarok and other tribes in Plateau State vowed to resist the plan.
For the Tarok, where the government said had agreed to offer their land for grazing, they distanced themselves from the plan.
They said in a statement: “We have been forced by the current tensed situation of ‘The National Grazing Reserve Establishment and Development Bill, 2011’, sponsored by Senator Zainab Kure before the National Assembly to issue this press statement indicating our vehement refusal and total rejection to the Grazing Reserve Commission Bill. We reject the bill its entirety for the purpose of peace, unity and progress.
Similarly, we are here to refute, reject and refuse that any inch of Tarok land be given for the purported grazing reserve.”
The statement, said by the Plateau State Radio and Television Corporation to have been copied to the Government of Plateau State; the Commissioner of Water Resources, Engr. Ja’afaru Wuyep; the interim Committee Chairman of Langtang North, Chief Dan Dul; and the Ponzhi Bwarat, S. S. Sambo, noted that the statement that the people of Langtang North have agreed to give out five hectares of land out of their heritage for the grazing reserve is a fallacy, non-existent and the imagination of those who are looking for acceptability and support from President Muhammadu Buhari and the Caliphate.
The people added: “The conflicting statements by state functionaries, like the Governor, the DG, Peace Building Agency and the Commissioner of Water Resources are merely diversionary to hoodwink the gullible members of the general public into accepting the Grazing Reserve Bill in the name of ranching which does not exist in the Bill.
“We have consulted members of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Leaders, Stakeholders and Custodians of the land in Langtang North and Langtang South LGAs and by extension, Plateau State but they were shocked at the listing of Plateau State as one of the eleven states and the FCT, mentioned by the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe as grazing reserve, but members were blunt that no inch of the state’s land will be surrendered for any grazing reserve. They rather, are expecting an apology from the Governor, the Commissioner of Water Resources and all those that were involved in the statement. Worthy of commendation are; Honourables Daniel Dem, Amos Kumtul, Geoffrey Lamdip, Peter Gyendeng, Nyam Dareng, Ezekiel Afon, Simon Kudu, Daniel Na’anlong, Jacob Kassam, Plateau G17 Youths, Plateau Women and all those who stood for the struggle against the Grazing Reserve Commission Bill.
It is pertinent to note that Plateau Stakeholders should not view this anti grazing reserve bill on party line because we cannot have a piggery or dog breeding in the core north.
“Let it be on record that we reject in totality, any attempt to take over our land in any guise for the expansion of Jihad and promotion of the herdsmen’s business of rearing and selling cattle. Dr. Austin Monye of the University of Benin said “it might interest you to know that some Northern Governors are secretly against the grazing reserve because they fear the influx of foreigners from Libya, Chad, Niger, Senegal, Guinea and other African countries may constitute security risk rather than bring peace.
“The National Grazing Reserve Establishment and Development Bill is desirous of creating a commission to be a headed by a Chairman, appointed by the President thus; if the Commission Chairman is to be appointed by the President and if his recent appointments is anything to go by, then the chairman will either be appointed from the North-West or North-East, and/or a Muslim who may not work for the interest of Plateau State. What has the APC Government in Nigeria done to internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, etc?
“Furthermore, the Commission shall have the power to take your land; anywhere the land is located in the country and pays you compensation. Your land, when taken shall be assigned to herdsmen who shall use it for grazing purposes.
“They shall bring cows to the land and you shall loose the land permanently to those Fulani herdsmen. If you feel that the commission was not right to have taken your land, you can go to court but before you go to court, you must first of all notify the FederalAttorney General before you can sue.
“So that means, if the Federal Attorney General refuses to give his consent to the suit, you have lost your land forever to the herdsmen. And this law, when passed, shall apply to the whole country so your land in the village and anywhere is not safe.
It therefore means that the National Grazing Reserve Commission will have the power to take away your land from you anytime they want and pay you whatever they want as compensation even when you don’t want to sell and remember that for you to get compensated, you must have documents showing or proving ownership (eg. C of O or R of O). Thus, South-South, South-East, South- West, North Central and North East must watch out.
“We are calling on all well-meaning Nigerians; devoid of party lines to come out in mass to force our members in the National Assembly to reject in totality the National Grazing Reserve Commission Bill and frustrate its passage into law for the corporate existence of Nigeria as its passage will dismember our country into pieces.
“The law if passed shall fulfill the directive of Othman Danfodio and other Northern leaders to take over our land and inheritance wisely and give them to Fulani herdsmen. We see this evil as a means of favoring and lording the Fulanis over other Nigerians.
“We are afraid that if the National Grazing Reserve Commission Bill is passed into law, we shall have a repeat of how King Yunfa, the Hausa Sarkin Gobir (now called Sokoto) hosted a Fulani immigrant called Usman Danfodio and his group in February 1804, as a result of this and since 1808 the whole Northern region lost its kingdoms and were replaced by Fulani Emirate. Therefore, the Middle Belt region shall not cede an inch of its God given land to Fulani Herdsmen who may tomorrow declare emirates in our land. It’s no news that King Yunfa was killed in 1808 and the Fulani warrior, Usman Danfodio established Sokoto Caliphate, making himself Sultan. We don’t want to be like the Hausa and the Afonja Kingdoms that were taken over by the Fulanis. Thus, no to grazing reserve bill because in future, our land will become Fulani settlements, later Fulani community and finally Local Government Areas with Fulani elected officials in 50 to 100 years to come.
“If Nigerians think we are alarmist, let them recall how the Hausa/Fulani tin miners started coming to Jos from one individual, then to a husband and wife, thentheir children, then relations to families and today their population decides who becomes the House of Assembly member in Jos North-North State Constituency, the House of Representatives; God alone knows what may happen in the next 15 years politically.
“With this commentary, it is evident that the Fulani Herdsmen are pawns in an agenda to overrun all towns in Nigeria, so we can have Emirs in Owerri, Enugu, Benin, Langtang, Mikang, Jos, Agatu, Gboko, Lagos, Oshogbo and other towns if the Federal Government is allowed to create grazing reserves for the Fulani herdsmen.
“We are warning our people to reject Grazing Reserve bill because if Yunfa didn’t accommodate Danfodio and his war-like immigrants from Futatoro, Hausa Sarkis would have been ruling their kingdoms today and possibly would have been practicing their religion and not Islam. Similarly, if Afonja didn’t conspire with Alimi, a Yoruba Kingdom would not have been ruled by Alimis off spring till today.
Our traditional rulers should join in the struggle against the National Grazing Reserve Commission Bill or else what happened to others; may happen to them, a stitch in time saves nine. The Grazing Reserve is a subtle continuation of the 1804 Fulani Jihad by the Fulani armed and protected herdsmen.
“We are bold to say that the grazing reserve bill is not an attempt to solve the Fulani herdsmen and farmers problems but a subterfuge to progress the expansionist and Islamic agenda of the Jihad to create problem, come up with a solution that advances the cause, and then give it a legal backing and make it look like a win-win situation.
“We are also calling on all Nigerians and members of the international community to refuse to be distracted or have their minds diverted. Strictly and factually speaking, the controversial, genocidal and ethnic war drumming ‘National Grazing Reserve Bill 2016’ is passively originated from the Senate of 2007-2011 sessions and actively laid, presently, before the House of Reps section of the 8th National Assembly of Nigeria. It is already on its way from Committee stage to the Third Reading/Debate session. Attempts by the powers that be to manipulate and suppress the rising public opinion against the obnoxious Grazing Reserve Bill; by denying the pendency of same, must be resisted with utter vehemence by all and sundry.
“We restate our strong opposition to the Bill and insist that some religious fundamentalists have hijacked the Federal establishments in Nigeria and vowed to Islamize the country through a combination of violent and political means. The crude practice of Fulani Animal Husbandry throughout the country must be abolished and strictly restricted to the core north. The Federal Government must also hands off the epidemic Bill and refrains from its steady moves to plunge Nigeria into genocide and intractable anarchy.
“The Middle Belt and its sister old Southern Nigeria must say no to institutionalization and nationalization of crude and violent Fulani Animal Husbandry in their ancestral areas with the exception of its trading. They must say no to crude and violent Fulani Cattle grazing and pasturing methodologies in Nigeria. The Fulani Cattle herders and owners must be reminded that Right to freedom of movement guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution does not allow “right to freedom of violent movement” or “unprovoked guest hostilities against the host”. Nigerians must keep vigil and be vigilant until the criminal Bill is massively and legislatively destroyed to be dusted up no more.
“Our resolutions: The Tarok Youths and people are behind our leaders in the State and National Assembly Stakeholders who are against the Grazing Reserve and will do everything humanly possible to stop it.
“We toe the line of other nationalities in Plateau State who came out to protest against this obnoxious Bill before the National Assembly.
“The Plateau Youths will be mobilized en masse for an anti-grazing sit out until the policy is reversed at the headquarters of Plateau Central, North and South.
“The Tarok Youths have vehemently vowed that this is the final war in view of the incessant killings of our kindred from 1997 to date. Even Tarok livestocks are not allowed to roam around because of lack of land and space are restricted to homes and ranches as Taroks have defined the livestock business beyond their confines.
We suggest that desert reclamation should be carried out in the far North to avoid the creation of non-existent land for grazing reserve.
“The Tarok man has nothing other than farmland, thus, we are warning trouble shooters to stay clear of Tarok land except government will support and encourage piggery, dog breeding and crop farming which our people are good at.”
In the same week, the Berom Educational and Cultural Organisation cautioned the Plateau State Government over serious tension of Grazing Reserves in the state.
The organisation said it strongly believes that resurrecting of such a policy now will serve no useful purpose, but generate another round of violent conflict.
The BECO General Secretary, Davou Choji Davou, and Chairman of BECO standing Committee on Media and Publicity, Hon. Sam Godongs, told journalists in Jos that the demands of herdsmen currently occupying Berom land forcefully in Gashish, Riyom and Bachit Districts must be made to leave unconditionally otherwise there is fear given the conflicting position of government.
The group said: “The attention of Berom Educational and Cultural Organisation (BECO) has been drawn to the contradictory and confusing pronouncements by Plateau State Governor Barr. Simon Lalong on the vexed issues of Grazing reserves in Plateau State, initially the Governor was quoted at a function in ECWA Headquarters as saying no grazing reserves will be created in the state. However, at another instance he declared that President Muhammadu Buhari and some Governors were in agreement on creating ranches as a panacea to the farmer-herder conflicts.”
According to the statement, the idea of grazing reserves is aimed at carving out territories and domains at the expenses of the natives for the interest of the Fulani, adding that the attacks, killings and destruction of food crops in Berom Land have recently emanated from the Fulani self-created enclaves and such would therefore be an endorsement of illegitimate and illegal acts.
It said: “BECO wishes to clearly and firmly state that Berom do not and shall never support the creation of Grazing Reserves on our land, no matter how defined, Berom Land has had its own share of troubles from Tin Mining Conglomerates, rapid forces of urbanization, and Jihadist campaigns of terror, and shall not yield to deceitful devices of Land-grap and territorial expansion for the benefit of ‘special Nigerians’ we will however lend encouragement to any individual or group that is predisposed to the idea of ranching on his ancestral or acquired land.
“Most recently the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, listed Plateau as one of the states that have agreed to provide 55,000 hectares of Land for grazing reserves.”
They said Berom land was declared a congested area in the 1940s because the land-people-ratio was about the highest in the country, saying this has gotten worse rather than improve over the years due to population increase, immigration and urbanization, adding: “This means that the fragile carrying capacity of the land has gotten more precarious and creating grazing reserves is like adding salt to an injury as these would perpetuate food hunger, increase unemployment, and heighten youth restiveness, the livelihoods of the Berom, and their survival would be threatened even further.”

Plateau ethnic groups kick against grazing reserve policy Plateau ethnic groups kick against grazing reserve policy Reviewed by Link Naija on June 19, 2016 Rating: 5

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