From very reliable sources, Ebonyi State has become the only South East state that has signed to cede her land to the FG for the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP), which is actually the RUGA. This arrangement is to cede land to Fulani herders to have a permanent place for their herding business in the state. The conditions don’t include the natives being the herders or ranch owners, otherwise the FG has no jurisdiction in our laws to decide for states how they operate agriculture schemes in their states.
While the Ebonyi State government hurried into this, we are yet to know those other 1001 agriculture programmes in crop production and improvements the FG operates and implements up north that Ebonyi has been a beneficiary of as a state known for agriculture. We don’t know those rice and yam farming supports the FG has given the state in the past.
The governor needs to educate people of the state why he hurried into this.
Is it part of the conditions for his migration to the ruling party at the center so that Ebonyi would be used as guinea pig to implement this shady plan?
Under the Land Use Act, 1977 as amended, the governor of the state is vested with powers over land in his domain which he HOLDS IN TRUST on behalf of the people.
Did the governor through a referendum, consensus of the people or House of Assembly legislation arrive at this decision over the land he holds in trust for the people of the state? Ebonyi State governor, His Excellency David Umahi owes people of the state explanation on this decision many of us don’t see profitable for the general good of the state as family land owners and communities have the right to challenge the governor hijacking their lands for RUGA or NLTP implementation.
Meanwhile, given the attendant security crisis nomadic cattle herders have brought on other Nigerians, including Ebonyi where Fulani herdsmen allegedly killed a man and his wife in Afikpo in 2020, one raped a 54 year old woman dead in Onicha LGA, destroyed farms in Edda, allegedly killed people in Akaeze in Ivo LGA and have had uncountable number of violent clashes with farmers in Izzi, we are bewildered that the government of the state without considering the feelings of the people signed up for this.
However, there are states in southern Nigeria, including Akwa Ibom that have started state owned ranches, and instead of Ebonyi following this example signed to yield her land exclusively to northern cattle herders.
No matter what colour it’s painted, the interest the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari has is to ensure that livestock herders from the north are settled in all parts of Nigeria and not that others should start herding business through sedentary ranching in this NLTP. If it’s to be open, it is not the duty of the FG to decide for the states that are autonomous by the definition of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 as amended that vests on the states with independent powers to govern themselves without being dictated to by the FG, how they operate farms.
Issues of agricultural policies and implementation are in the concurrent legislative list of the Constitution and implies that every state decides for herself what she wants.
The people of the state need not keep quiet over this impending security danger.
Those states that rejected the ploy had the facts clear and argued that the FG has no reason compelling states to donate lands to it for the use of herders.
They contend that any cattle herders as businesspeople should on their own buy land spaces for their use and not the FG armtwisting states to compulsorily donate land for cattle ranching and herding.
People of Ebonyi need to speak up before the government foists on all of us an avoidable danger now and in the future.