Group calls on FG to shelve N179bn plan to set up ranches

A group known as the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has rebuffed the Federal Government’s plan to spend N179bn to set up ranches across the country for herdsmen in 10 years, starting with a N70bn budget under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

In a statement by the group’s spokesmen, Mr. Yinka Odumakin for Southwest; Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South); Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South East); and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt); they urged the government to drop the idea of committing public funds on ranches and allow the owners of the business to attend to their needs in the spirit of “I belong to everybody” mantra of the President.

The leaders warned that going ahead with the project would create the impression that the herders own the current administration and, such development, could force other segments of the society to conclude that they have no inheritance in the arrangement.

According to the Forum, “cattle rearing is a private business in which individuals make billions of profits with no records of what they pay as taxes.

“It is unfortunate that the Federal Government was making this vexatious declaration while receiving the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Friesland Campina of The Netherlands without bothering to find out that it was put together by cooperatives dating back to 1879.

It is one of the world’s top five dairy companies with a yearly revenue of 11 billion Euros.”

It continued: “It is only reasonable that those who want to engage in the business should approach the states where they want to build ranches and acquire land to build such with firm commitment to abide by the rules of their host communities.

“Rewarding the herders with public funds to build ranches would only mean that they have killed enough to beat the country into pacification mode. And this can only encourage other people to arm themselves and cause sufficient killings to get undue concession.”

The leaders wondered what the society would become if fishermen, farmers and people in other trades begin to cause bloodbath so that the Federal Government could give them special consideration.

They, however, commended the government for coming to terms with modernisation by embracing ranching for herdsmen.

They further said: “The 2014 National Conference resolutions had reasoned out this matter and recommended ranching as it is done in all civilised societies.

The decision to ignore this sensible recommendation has led to a situation where untold terror has been unleashed on farming communities with needless loss of hundreds of lives in the last three years with not a soul under prosecution, and top functionaries of the administration making excuses for the killers.”

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