<<< By Terver Akase >>>
A few weeks ago, I wrote here that the headline of a newspaper report does not always say what the content of the story is. It is therefore important to read the body of the report and not only its headline.
Below is part of Leadership newspaper’s report in its edition of today which has Governor Samuel Ortom’s speech at the media and communications briefing on the National Livestock Transformation Plan which took place in Abuja yesterday.
There is nowhere in the speech that Governor Ortom said Benue would give land for grazing reserves, the proposed FG ranches, cattle colonies or any of the related patterns of animal husbandry contrary to the provisions of the state’s Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law:
“On his part, the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom commended the federal government for the operation whirl stroke and called on security agencies to put more efforts in restoring peace in the state.
Ortom noted that ranching has remained global best practice, adding that the state has no plan to repeal its law prohibiting open grazing and giving room for ranching.
He maintained that the state has no landmass for cattle routes and open grazing as the available land mass is used for crop cultivation to maintain the food basket status.
The governor alleged that Miyetti Allah members are treated like sacred cows in Nigeria despite that they hired mercenaries to kill Benue farmers.
He reiterated that that laws were made out of desperation to stop the killings, adding that these killings started since 2011.
Commenting on the ECOWAS treaty, the Governor said, “The ECOWAS protocol has not been observed by any of the ECOWAS countries and basic documents and checks are not done on the herdsmen.
“The challenge for us in Benue state is that we have no land. As the food basket of the nation, we have no land. My state is not an industrial state; my state is a civil service state supported economically by the farmers. When I came in as governor, I encouraged even the civil servants to go back to farm. Whatever you are doing, your second office is farming and that is the only thing we are doing.
“The land is no longer there. What existed in the 60s when cattle rearers come around with sticks not guns was that we related very well. There was no problem; there was no fighting.
“The Miyetti Allah are responsible for hiring mercenaries to kill our people. The real herdsmen in Benue have no issues with our law. They were willing until Miyetti Allah told them otherwise.”
Ortom reiterated that the country had grazing routes when the total population of the country was just 30million, adding that with the country’s population estimated at over 200million today, the land is not expanding.”