The protest notwithstanding, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday inaugurated the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) in Gongoshi, Mayo-Belwa council area of Adamawa state. Commending their peaceful conduct, Osinbajo, however, informed the protesters that the policy was part of measures to tackle the deadly clashes between farmers and herdsmen nationwide.
He reminded the people that the Federal Government lacked the powers to appropriate lands from states for whatsoever reason. The vice president dissociated the NLTP from the disbanded Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlement scheme, pointing that it was the inaugurated project that was discussed and approved by the governors under his chairmanship of the National Economic Council (NEC). He pleaded with the chief executives of the seven states picked for the pilot project to give it a trial, noting that its economic and security benefits were immense.
In his welcome address, Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintri said 60,000 square metres of land in five council areas had been allocated for the scheme. Expressing his determination to end conflicts in the state, the governor submitted that development could take place in the atmosphere of strife. Also contributing were the protesting Numan Federation, Gongola Indigenous Ethnic Nationalities Development Association and Pene Da Bwatiye.
National president of Numan Federation and former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Maliki Daniel, cautioned against the implementation of the policy without addressing the security challenges in the state. He accused the Federal Government of placing livestock production above the promotion and protection of human rights. “The Federal Government should put forward security measures that the eventual ranches will not be used as rural garrisons and arms depots in future to attack Numan federation,” Daniel said.
To the chairman of the Gongola ethnic body, Dennis Chinda Medugu, the scheme must benefit the entire communities and not just the herders, whom he alleged, were imported to unleash terror on the indigenes. “We have fears that if the ranching policy excludes our people, it will be used as a launch pad for terrorist activities and military garrison to facilitate the easy takeover of nearby communities. Our people will, therefore, resist the implementation of any component or pillar of the NLTP project that seeks to exclude the indigenous communities of the state,” he warned.
Also speaking, Bwatiye’s national president, Hezron Fada, stated that the initiative would fail if the attacks on his people by the suspected Fulani nomads continue. He alleged: “The Gongoshi grazing reserve, in particular, has always served as a launch pad for attacks by herders on our people in Mayo-Belwa, Demsa, Numan and Girei local government areas. To now turn this area into a ranch for all comers without guaranteeing the security of our people is to us, a recipe for the decimation of our people.”