The Plateau State government’s ongoing awareness on clearing its stance on accepting Grazing Ranch not Reserve policy suffered a setback at a Seminar organized by the Special Programmes Committee of Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) tagged: “Grazing Reserves/Ranching Policy (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly) at the COCIN Headquarters Church in Jos the Plateau State Capital.
Speaking at the event, the Plateau State Deputy Governor, Prof. Sonni Tyoden explained that government would not implement ranching policy without consulting and getting the acceptance of people of the state on the matter saying the whole idea of accepting the grazing reserve is to bring lasting peaceful coexistence between farmers and headsmen in the State.
“The policy is still a proposed idea that is undergoing consultations by relevant stakeholders and citizens of plateau state. It is wrong for people to conclude that the project is meant for Fulani herdsmen alone as different species of livestock farmers will also benefit” he said.
The Deputy Governor said rejection of the proposed idea of the ranching policy by the Federal government means Plateau State would not benefit from the money accrued for the project in the national budget.
The crowd however did not allow the Deputy Governor to finish his speech as he was booed, they showed their disapproval by raising their voices until the COCIN Vice President, Rev. Dr. Obed Dashan intervened by appealing for understanding. He said, “The position of the Church is all about having peaceful society having passed through trying times in the Country and especially in the State where this idea remain vague, we call for prayers that God would widen our understanding as whatever affects the nation affects the Church and what affects the Church affects the nation as well”
A Federal Legislator representing Takum, Ussa, Donga, Yantu Federal Constituency Hon. Rima Shawulu pointed out that the people of Taraba and Benue states have a different position on the grazing reserve.
“Both grazing reserve and ranching policy are the same since government is embarking on the development of private businesses to the detriment of other farmers who have been having consistent conflict as a result of insufficient land for farming”.
He called on the Plateau State Government to bring a halt the process and give attention as well state resources to other areas of great economic importance that will benefits everyone until the Middle-Belt comes out with a final position on the Federal Government Grazing/Ranching policy.
He added that those private members bill on grazing and ranching or even the proposed Grazing Reserve Commission in the national assembly cannot see the light of the day because causing a problem cannot be solved with another problem.
Chairman of the organizing Committee, Retired Rear Admiral Samuel Atukum described the issue as worrisome to most citizens of the state maintaining that grazing reserve or ranching areas were given prominence in the first republic especially in the Northern region of the Country but at the moment things have change with the rapid increase in Nigeria’s population.