To resolve the problem of accommodation that may arise from the movement of herders back to the north following the ban on open grazing in southern states, the Governor of Gombe state, Inuwa Yahaya, has met with President Muhammadu Buhari to press him to fast-track the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
Briefing correspondents after the meeting at the presidential villa, Abuja, he harped on the need to develop the Wawa-Zange grazing reserve in the state to ensure accommodation for the large number of herders that are likely to move back to the north.
He said: “We discussed the issue of Wawa-Zange grazing reserve. I think it is the largest grazing reserve that is gazetted in the whole of Nigeria totalling 144,000 hectares.
“I believe that Mr President earlier in 2020 precisely in his 2020 January speech acknowledged and approved that the National Livestock Transformation Plan will take off with a model from Gombe, the Wawa-Zange reserve.
“But so far, nothing serious has been done on that, and with the recent outburst, with the position taken by governors of southern parts of this country, there is the need for us to fast-track the process of building that place so that in the event our people move in multitudes to come back to resettle, we will have space for them.
“And we will avoid situations where there will be rancour and there will be no issues to do either with farmers/herders again or issues to do with the herders themselves having problems because they cannot have any space for them to stay.”
He stressed the importance of the implementation of the grazing reserve, saying that in the event that herders are dislocated from the southern states and they have no place to return, it will set off another crisis “which may not be good for the country.”
On whether he had requested funds from the President to implement the project he said: “ We’ve requested for funds. I believe that every other state will do so because you need the resources in order to implement and there is a scarcity of financial resources in the state.
“So, we’ve requested. But I will not tell you how much. But at least, we’ve submitted a proposal that is fully backed by a feasibility report that indicates what we require.
“But with the size of Wasa-Zange, 144,000 hectares that are specifically meant for cattle and other livestock, really, there’s justification for the government to put in money so that we can avoid this rancour and issues to do with farmers/herders that has already degenerated in some parts of the country to lead to banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping for ransom.”
He said he also discussed the issue of the discovered oil in the Benue trough in the Konami area around Bauchi and Gombe states, noting that a lot had been achieved in exploration in the area.
The governor said he also impressed the need to fast-track its take-off on the president so that people can benefit from the potentials of the resources the country is endowed with.
He praised the passion of the President in the exploration and the interest of investors in developing the oil and gas deposit in the area.
Yahaya stressed the need to exploit oil and gas in the north saying that in doing so, “we will have balance. Whilst oil and gas is discovered up north and there is oil and gas in the south, there will be balance.
“And everybody will now be his brother’s keeper trying to mingle and mix up. Everybody can enjoy the benefit of God’s endowed resources that we have in this country if we are ready to key in and do the correct thing.”
He said the President should apply pressure to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to expedite action on the take-off “knowing fully well that oil and gas are under the exclusive preserve of the federal government.”
He also spoke of a new Muhammadu Buhari Industrial Park in Dadikowa being implemented in the state to encourage industrialists to come and invest in the state.
According to him, necessary infrastructure such as 24-hour electricity, water and security have already been put in place.
Governor Yahaya also spoke of the rehabilitation of the NYSC Orientation Camp to also serve as a rehabilitation centre for surrendering insurgents.
He explained that this is necessary because the state now realizes that rather than the existing short term rehabilitation plan, the massive return of terrorists makes it imperative to have a long term rehabilitation plan.
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