Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State recently granted some journalists an interview in which he spoke on a number of things including the origin of the controversial National Grazing Reserve Bill.
Here are excerpts of the interview culled from New Telegraph.
What is your position on the issue of grazing reserves for herdsmen?
I think this an area I will also want to appeal to the media and Nigerians about, there is a very serious misconception about this grazing reserve, even some state governors that had agreed are now turning down to say we didn’t agree.
When the crisis came, Plateau State was seriously involved in it, almost the whole of North Central zone and some states were not interested because they think that it will not get to their states but all of a sudden the issue was everywhere.
The herdsmen and farmers have been having clashes all over the country, so Mr. President asked the governors and the National Assembly to sit down and find a solution, even the Fulani herdsmen that we are talking about, the president himself is also a Fulani man, but he is not left out, he is also a target in his village because the herdsmen were also clashing with the Fulani in Daura, so it’s a very serious issue that we needed to find a solution and the issue of grazing ranches was introduced by the governors, now when people hear grazing, they say it is grazing reserve, grazing route, grazing reservoir, but initially, even in the constitution, grazing route was there, but what we have to do is to take away the issue of grazing route because when you emphasise on grazing route, it means that everybody has the right to move on the grazing route, but these days, some have taken advantage of our people.
People from Chad pretend they are Nigerian herdsmen and the next thing is you will hear attacks here and there, and part of the solution all over is that it is this grazing route that is causing the problem.
We are getting developed and so the next solution was to suggest a way of having people kept in the permanent environment, now governors will intervene and because it is done in so many countries, that is our concerned now, but when you mention ranches people believe it is grazing route again and we say no, the purpose of the ranches is to introduce another mode of equipping our people.
We are emphasising on agriculture, we need to go and enlighten the people in the villages that this is the time for everybody, because when we talk about agriculture, it is not only farming, farming also includes grazing.
I know the intention of Mr. President is that they will stop people from moving about with law, nobody will move about anyhow again and you will not hear of Fulani people invading villages.
I was talking to my commissioners and I said we are going to reach out to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture there is a need for further enlightenment on this issue otherwise politician are taking advantage of it.
For those of us in Plateau, we have a lot of this issue, for me it is an advantage because we have one of the issue of Fulani and the farmers clashing, secondly there are so many cases of cattle rustling.
The purpose of the grazing ranches is to reduce the issue of cattle rustling because when you have cow in a ranch each of those cows will definitely have a chip and there will be no way you can steal a cow in a ranch.
That is the purpose that the president is introducing a laudable intention, but this issue was presented at the governors forum and we agreed at the governors forum meeting and we introduced that, that was why we also told the National Assembly members and they agreed that a bill should come to that extent and I know that a lot of people have their own opinion, but now it is left for the National Assembly to look at it, but for Plateau State we are trying to create an opportunity that will have a public announcement in respect to the issue before we go into full implementation for the purpose of understanding the true concept of what we are doing about this issue.