President Muhammadu Buhari has said on Saturday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, that only governors have the powers to create cattle colonies in Nigeria.
Buhari said this at the South-South zonal meeting of the National Committee of the Buhari Support Groups (NCBSG).
The president, who was represented by his special adviser on National Assembly matters, Ita Enang, said the Land Use Act of 1978 has made it impossible for him to prescribe to what use land in states should be put.
“When Nigeria became four regions, we had cattle routes in each of the regions,” said Buhari.
“When Nigeria created states, each of the states made laws to regulate rearing of animals. In 1978, under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as head of state, the Land Use Act was made.
“Under the Land Use Act, the President of Nigeria has power to control lands in Abuja only.”
Meanwhile, some Nigerian governors have opposed the creation of cattle colonies since it was proposed by the Federal Government to solve the Fulani herdsmen crisis.
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State had recently described as “wicked, unfounded and untrue,” the reports that he had approved of the proposed cattle colonies in the state.
“Imo people and members of the public are therefore advised to disregard these baseless and laughable rumours,” said Okorocha.
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State had said of the proposed Cattle Colonies, “Other states have the land but we in Benue state, we don’t have and that was what led to us enacting the anti-grazing law.”
On his part, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State said: “We will not allow our state to be controlled by external forces; we will not be drawn into debates on cattle colonies. We don’t have land for any cattle colony in Rivers State.”
Describing it as colonisation, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State said: “Cattle colony is tantamount to modern slavery, because colony is synonymous with colonisation. We cannot have that in Oyo State. It is a pointer to the fact that federalism is not working in Nigeria.”
In the same light, the Catholic Bishops of Lagos Ecclesiastical Province and Lagos Elders Council described the establishment of cattle colonies across Nigerian states as a time bomb.
“Such a proposal is a time-bomb which might later blow Nigeria out of existence,” said the council, adding that it “is not only capable of further exacerbating an already tensed atmosphere, but also leave one with the impression that the much-touted Islamization agenda of Nigeria is an ongoing project that may have tacitly received the approval of Mr. President.”
Other governors who have joined in rejecting the proposed cattle colonies are those of Ebonyi and Plateau states among others.
However, The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, announced last month that some governors in sixteen states have offered five hectares of land each for the establishment of cattle colonies in their domains.
“On the issue of cattle, we have to start immediately; 16 states have given us land to work on. The programme is not going to be cheap. Mr President has personally informed me that if we seek help from him, he will give it to us over and above the budget we have, and when that budget is released I plead with all of you to come on board to work hard to achieve results,” said the minister.