Oluwole Josiah-Uanzekin

The Pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has rejected the move by President Muhammadu Buhari to recover 368 grazing reserves in 25 states of federation, saying it is a waste of tax payers money.

The President on Thursday approved the recommendations of a committee it earlier set up to review levels of encroachment into the grazing reserves. The committee was headed by his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari.

The recovery process, according to the President’s Spokesman, Garba Shehu, begins with “the collection of field data on 368 grazing reserves across 25 states to assess encroachment and encroachers, stakeholder engagements and sensitisation.” 

The committee also recommended production of maps and geo-mapping/tagging of sites, analysis of findings and report preparations, as well as design appropriate communication on grazing reserves and operations.

The President had also directed that the assignment be carried out with “dispatch.”

But Afenifere, in a reaction to the development on Friday, said the approval by the President to review, with dispatch, 368 Grazing Reserves across allegedly 25 states in the country to determine the levels of encroachment did not surprise Nigerians.

“It does not also matter that having felt the pulse of the nation in his interview with the Arise television in June, the President is still wasting tax payers’ scarce resources on a programme whose conception lacks all conceivable growth capacity,” Afenifere’s Secretrary General, Sola Ebiseni, said.

“It is instructive that the recommendation and implementation committee is headed by Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff to the President who, in conjunction with Professor Attahiru Jega, during the first term of Buhari, presented a ‘Memorandum On Pastoralist-Farmers’ Conflicts And the search for peaceful Resolution’ published in January 2018, which contained the same recommendations now being foisted on the nation.

Mr Ebiseni noted that currently, Nigeria has a total of 417 grazing reserves all over the country, out of which only about 113 have been gazetted.

He argued that the present policy of the Buhari administration on Grazing Reserves “is the implementation of the script by the Fulani intelligentsia.”

“The recommendations which pandered to deceptive national solutions to orchestrated farmers/herders clash, nonetheless reek of the odiferous stench of ethnic agenda for settlement of the Fulani in the ancestral lands of other ethnic nationalities,” he said.

“The non-Fulani Nigerians are not stupid, as the Federal Government, probably imagine, not to know that the concept of Grazing Reserve, by the Gambari and Jega definitions above, is a worse form of official dispossession of their ancestral lands for the inheritance and use of the Fulani than Cattle Colony, RUGA and Grazing Routes which they have roundly rejected.

“We recall and support the resolutions of the Nigerian Governors, particularly from the south of the country, banning all forms of open grazing and it does not matter to us that some elected governors, in a federation, would condescend so low to function as members of a Committee presided over by an appointed aide of the President, no matter the name in which his office is painted.

“The concept of Grazing Reserves, otherwise known as Hurumi, which was introduced during the colonial and immediately after independence failed in the north particularly in the Middle Belt provinces, notwithstanding a monolithic one North government and permissive land-use regime.

“For the umpteenth time, let the President be told that the constitution which he reveres relentlessly and the Land Use Act which derives equal force therefrom, extols the majesty of the people over their land.

“Even the Governor who holds the land in his state in trust for the people cannot dispossess any citizen thereof, except for proven overriding public interest through the due process of law.

“The current exercise is not only a waste of tax payers’ money but also a sweet pipe dream in a fool’s paradise.

“Every herder has a state of origin. Let the governments of the respective states make arrangements for settled life for them in the territory where the culture is fully appreciated.”

Recently, some states in the south had banned the practice of open grazing, however, the Ondo State Government has passed a law providing for secluded areas for grazing of cattle, but which would be privately owned or leased out to ranchers by land owners.

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