The federal government has received rare kudos from members of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) for embracing ranching for cattle as against open grazing it initially proposed.
The group has, however, opposed governmentâ€™s proposal to spend N179 billion of public funds to build the ranches.
SMBLF said in statement by Yinka Odumakin, Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-west/South-south), Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, Dr. Isuwa Dogo (South-east/Middle Belt), that the federal governmentâ€™s decision to ignore the recommendation of the 2014 National Conference is responsible for the unnecessary deaths occasioned by farmers-herders clashes.
â€œThe 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. We however object to the federal government decision to spend N179 billion of public funds to build these ranches over ten years starting with N70 billion under this administration. Cattle rearing is a private business in which individuals make billions of naira with no record of what they pay as taxe.â€
â€œIt is unfortunate that the federal government was making this vexatious declaration while receiving the Chief Executive Officer of Friesland Campina of Netherlands without bothering to find out that it was put together by cooperatives with roots going back to 1879 and is one of the worldâ€™s top five dairy companies with annual revenue of 11billion Euro.â€
â€œIt 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 host communities,â€ SMBLF said.
The group said rewarding the herders with public funds to build ranches would only mean that they have killed enough to beat the country into pacification mode.
According to the leaders, this can only encourage other people to arm themselves to cause sufficient killings in order to get undue concession.
â€œWhat would our society become if fishermen,.farmers and people in other trades begin to cause bloodbath so that the federal government could give them special consideration? We call on the federal government to shelve the idea of committing public funds on ranches and allow the owners of the business to attend to their business needs in the spirit of â€˜I belong to everybodyâ€™ mantra of the president,â€ the leaders explained .