Gideon Arinze in Enugu
South-east governors have rejected the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) proposed by the National Economic Council (NEC) to address the lingering crisis between farmers and herdsmen.
Ebonyi State Governor, who doubles as Chairman, South-east Governors’ Forum, David Umahi, told THISDAY at the weekend that although the NLTP is a voluntary programme of the federal government, just like the Anchor Borrowers Scheme, the South-east would not be part of it, given the controversy and misinterpretation of the whole idea.
His Chief Press Secretary, Emma Uzor, who spoke on behalf of the governor, said the plan would best benefit the North because the region has a comparative advantage in terms of livestock farming.
The governor said the NLTP would restrict the movements of the herders within the North since they could now have access to whatever they need.
He said: “we believe that the programme will help solve the long standing challenge of farmer-herder clashes in the country as they can have access to whatever amount of money they need to run their business.”
On whether it is in line with federal government’s formerly proposed Ruga Settlement plan, he said it was a different idea because anybody interested in going into livestock farming could access the fund and not just the herdsmen.
“If you use to rear cows before, you can now have piggery as part of the business. It is left for you to know how to do your business without infringing on anybody’s right” he stated.
The NEC, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had last week approved N100 billion to support the take-off of the NLTP.
NEC’s approval came barely a week after Northern governors rose from a meeting in Kaduna on September 12, to embrace the programme, initiated by the federal government, to curb persistent clashes between farmers and herders.
Umahi who chaired the Sub-committee on Herders-farmers Crisis, had earlier told State House reporters that the committee briefed NEC on the N100 billion proposal to support the project.
According to the governor, 80 per cent of the amount will come from the federal government as grants to beneficiary states while such states would contribute the 20 per cent balance.
Meanwhile, the Enugu State Government has said it would accept whatever position the South-east Governors’ Forum takes on the NLTP as it does not have any position of its own.
Secretary to the Enugu State Government, Prof. Simon Ortuanya, said whatever decision the forum took would be binding on the state.
“We do not have our own position on the matter and as such, we are going to abide by whatever position that is agreed upon by the forum provided it is going to be in the best interest of our people,” he said.