Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, has expressed concern over the inability of the federal government to mobilize national consensus to confront the monumental tragedies bedevilling the country.
SMBLF noted that instead the federal government has busied itself with policies that are divisive and smack of domination and conquest of sections of the country by a section.
Arising from its meeting in Abuja against the state of general insecurity consuming human lives on daily basis, the leaders explained that the country’s leadership has failed in mobilizing national consensus to confront the monumental tragedies confronting the country.
In a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting by Yinka Odumakin, Prof Chigozie Ogbu, Senator Bassey Henshaaw and Dr Isuwa Dogo, South West, South East, South South and Middle Belt respectively, SMBLF rejected the National Livestock (cattle ) Transformation Plan, RUGA, saying, “Meeting restates the rejection of SMBLF to the use of the collective resources of Nigerians to convert herdsmen, majority of whom are non-Nigerians, from nomadic to sedentary lifestyles while doing their private business that has nothing to do with the rest of us beyond being their market. It is akin to government making budgetary allocations to Coca Cola to produce drinks to sell to Nigerians.”
Apart from the plan not making any economic sense for the country, SMBLF said there are other fundamental problems it raises.
“There is the issue of citizenship which the unthoughtful exposition of Bauchi Governor, Bala Mohammed, that Fulanis from all over Africa are going to benefit from the scheme.
“The Fulani man is a global or African person. He moves from Gambia to Senegal and his nationality is Fulani…So we can not just close our border and say the Fulani man is just a Nigerian”
“Why are we closing our border with Benin Republic where there are many people of Yoruba origin there? Are Igbos who are aborigines in Haiti to come to Nigeria without consular services? What is the contribution of those Fulani imports to the development of Nigeria to come and live on our resources when our citizens are the poorest on earth? Why is it difficult to apply common sense in our inter-ethnic relations in Nigeria?” The meeting asked.
SMBLF noted, “The above shows clearly that NLTP will only escalate the clashes between the indigenous communities and cattle settlers as experiences in Southern and Middle Belt areas of Nigeria have shown that the Fulani imports do not assimilate into the ways of lives of Nigerians in those parts of the country where they reside. They live apart from the locals and set up communities with alien culture that disrupts the cultural flow of the indigenes.
“The subterfuge of the whole deal is exposed in that while government officials deceive Nigerians that the plan will stop open grazing for ranching, option 1 in it provides for the establishment of corridors for migrant cattle with feeding and watering points along the routes. This is as stark as the lie that “livestock” includes other sources of meat. The entire plan is about cattle and herdsmen.”
SMBLF said it does not accept the policy and asked the federal government to allow those who are in cattle business establish ranches on their own under the guidelines and laws of the host state.
The meeting observed that the Waterways Bill is another conquest agenda in sync with NLTP, adding that it is the vexatious Executive Bill titled “A Bill for An Act to Establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria, Provide for the Equitable and Sustainable Redevelopment, Management, Use and Conservation of Nigeria’s Surface Water and Groundwater Resources and for Related Matter”.
It said the bill seeks to abrogate all existing laws and institutions governing the management and control of water resources nationwide and replace them with new ones in a manner that gives the President, through the Minister of Water Resources, the power to control the nation’s rivers (especially those that pass through more than one state), lakes and underground water.
It added, according to it, “All surface water and groundwater wherever it occurs, is a resource common to all people, the use of which is subject to statutory control. There shall be no private ownership of water but the right to use water in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”
It explained, “The Waterways Bill is another land-grabbing move like RUGA by ethnic supremacists who are working against the unity of the country. Major rivers in Nigeria can be made available, by Federal law if the bill is passed, to Fulani pastoralists and there is nothing the indigenous people within such vicinities can do about it.
“The Police and the security agencies will be handy to enforce it and it will be another White farmers versus the African landowners scenario in Southern Africa during the Apartheid season.
“It is a recipe for unending armed conflicts. It also means the federal government can, wherever it identifies a large body of underground water (aquifers), decide to open a “Federal” water scheme, and no one can stop Fulani cattle owners from taking over such places.
“The “all people” in the bill also means that Pastoralists from any part of Africa, as explained by Bauchi Governor, can come and settle along the lush waterways of the Middle Belt and Southern protected by Nigeria’s Federal law to the detriment of indigenes who have for centuries depended on their natural resources for their livelihood.”
The meeting called on all lawmakers from the South and Middle Belt to resist the bill as SMBLF shall be keenly interested in developments around it.
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