Benue Stakeholders Reject FG’s Livestock Transformation Plan

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George Okoh in Makurdi

Benue State stakeholders drawn from the traditional institution, the church, socio-cultural organisations, academia, and civil society wednesday rejected the federal government proposed National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), describing it as a round peg in a square hole.

The stakeholders made their position known at the Benue Peoples House in Makurdi during an interface with a delegation from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Tor Lobi, Chief Moses Anagende and Tor Kwande, Chief Ambrose Iyortyer, who spoke for traditional rulers, said what was best for the federal government was to rebuild homes, schools, churches and other properties destroyed during herders invasion of the state, and to rehabilitate the highly traumatised displaced persons who are still languishing in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.

They stated that the document detailing the NLTP and its implementation only talks about cattle and no other category of livestock, stressing that the plan was a reintroduction of the rejected Ruga settlements and cattle colonies for herdsmen.

Professor Amstrong Adejo of the Benue State University stated that the word livestock as captured in the document was holistic, but the conclusion was particular about cows, saying the document was a proposal which he advised the state government to set up a committee to dissect it and come up with Benue’s position.

Mrs. Josephine Haba, who represented the civil society organisations, wondered why Benue State had recently been a theatre of killings, but instead of the federal government to address the plight of those who suffered the attacks, it brought an architect to redesign structures for pastoralists in the
state.

Others, including Archbishop Yimam Orkwar, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Benue State; Reverend Akpen Leva, President Mdzough u Tiv; Chief Edward Ujege and former House of Representatives member, Mrs. Rebecca Apezan, lamented that security men now escort the Benue people to bury their loved ones because herdsmen have occupied the people’s ancestral homes.

She described the NLTP as Ruga in different regalia.

The state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Timothy Ijir, said the state was evolving its agricultural development policy which he said captures the people’s interest.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Development Cooperation, SDGs and NEPAD, Dr. Magdalyne Dura, had in an address, stated that the meeting was to explain to the stakeholders in details the LTPS document which had been made available with implementation guidelines, stressing that states were at liberty to domesticate the policy based on their peculiarities.

Head of the federal government delegation, Dr. Nyager, had earlier briefed the Benue State stakeholders on the NLTP, saying it was aimed at promoting animal husbandry in the country.