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Afenifere’s Secretary-General Olusola Ebiseni, in a statement on Friday, said Buhari was wasting taxpayers’ scarce resources on a programme whose conception lacked all conceivable growth capacity.
According to the statement, it was instructive that the recommendations being foisted on the nation had its committee being headed by Buhari’s Chief of Staff Ibrahim Gambari, who, in conjunction with former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Attahiru Jega, had presented a ‘Memorandum On Pastoralist-Farmers’ Conflicts And the search for peaceful Resolution’ published during Buhari’s first tenure in January 2018.
“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.”
Afenifere expressed its support for the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF)’s resolutions, particularly from the southern part of the country, banning all forms of open grazing.
It noted that it did not matter if 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 irrespective of the name in which his office was painted.
The group said that the concept of grazing reserves, otherwise known as Hurumi, was introduced during the colonial era, which immediately failed in the northern part of the country after Independence, despite a monolithic one North government and its 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 taxpayers’ money but also a sweet pipe dream in a fool’s paradise.”
The group advised that herders should go back to their respective states and allow their state governments to make arrangements for a settled life in the territory where the culture of open grazing was fully appreciated.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu, Buhari had approved recommendations of a committee to review ‘with dispatch’ 368 grazing sites across 25 states in the country “to determine the levels of encroachment.”
The committee, which Buhari’s Chief of Staff Ibrahim Gambari chairs, had recommended collecting field data on 368 grazing reserves across 25 states to assess encroachment and encroachers, stakeholder engagements, and sensitisation.
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, whose state has suffered greatly from clashes between farmers and herders, has vehemently opposed the idea.
Also, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called on the president to abandon the plan to prevent the country from going into another brutal civil war.