Elders in Oke Ogun zone in Oyo State have rejected the federal government’s plan to establish cattle ranches in the state.
The Oke Ogun Council of Elders (OCE) in a statement on Monday regretted that Oyo state is among 10 states where the pilot ranches will be established.
The federal government last Tuesday announced plans to create 94 ranches in 10 pilot states under the National Livestock Implementation Plan in its efforts to stop the herdsmen and farmers crisis in the country.
The Commisioner for Agriculture in Oyo State, Prince Oyewumi was later quoted as saying the ranch in the state will be located in the northern part of the state, where Oke Ogun is.
The OCE press release signed by it’s spokesman, Comrade Jare Ajayi, stated that given the discord and possible bloodshed that such a proposition is likely to cause, the government ought not to contemplate it at all.
“This is in sharp contrast to the promise made by Governor Abiola Ajimobi on April 26, 2016 while speaking during the launch of the ‘AgricOyo,’ the state’s agriculture initiative held at Paago, Iseyin, in Oke Ogun zone of the state,” the group said.
The Oke Ogun elders expressed surprise that the federal government that admitted the loss of lives and as much as about $14 billion (₦5.04 trillion) annually to herdsmen/farmers-related conflicts “could still go ahead to think of this obnoxious project rather than finding a lasting solution to the problem.
“The lasting solution advocated is to ban open grazing of livestock and to encourage livestock farmers to embrace modern ways of rearing animals which is ranching.
“But this has to be by private arrangement and not something that would be created for livestock farmers by the government”.
The ten states targetted by the federal government for the ranching programme for which it plans to spend N179billion over the next 10 years include: Adamawa, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Kaduna, Nassarawa, Oyo, Plateau, Taraba and Zamfara.
Tagged ‘The National Livestock Transformation Plan, the new plan is built on six key pillars: economic investment, conflict resolution, law and order, humanitarian relief, information education and strategic communication; and cross-cutting issues.
But the Council of Elders maintained that the project “will create far greater problems than it will solve”.
The elders reminded the governor of his words rejecting the initially proposed grazing zones. The governir wqs quoted to have said: “This is the time to call a spade a spade. Those clamouring for creation of grazing zones across the country should have a rethink. It is against the Land Use Act; it is against the law of natural justice to seize people’s land to cater for someone’s cattles.
“Grazing zones could be created for those who are traditional cattle rearers in their areas. I’m not against that. But, you cannot come here and tell me you want to occupy our land for grazing zones. The land exists in our respective states and as such the rightful owners should decide what to do with them.”
Oke ogun Council of Elders (OCE) asked the governor to stand by this position. “What has changed between 2016 when this statement was made and now? If anything, there are more cogent reasons now not to accommodate the kind of grazing zones or ranches being proposed by the federal government” the release averred.
“In any case both the federal and Oyo State governments should know that there is no land of any size in Oke ogun for the kind of ranches being proposed. We cannot allow ourselves to be run over”.