Delta State Has No Land for Cattle Colonies, Says Okowa

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Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa has said his state has no land to donate to the federal government for the establishment of cattle colonies for herdsmen saying his state was in need of land and did not have any to be donated for cattle colonies.

Speaking in an interview in Abuja with select newsmen, the governor reiterated the need for the security agencies in the country to rise up to their responsibilities to protect lives and properties of Nigerians.

“In the first instance you know that Delta State is possibly half of water, half of land. So, obviously we are in dire need of land. We don’t have land for that purpose; that is the truth. It is a growing state and because of the very coastal areas and most of these coastal areas are not in the best of shape because from the exploitation of oil, most of our lands are destroyed and we don’t have enough arable land and the pressure is now coming because we are encouraging our people to go to the farm.

“In the past, it was a rent economy, people were actually looking for the money that comes in from oil and subsidiaries of the crude oil economy. But now it is not exactly the same so we are trying to reencourage people to go back to land. So, we need quite some lands, we do not even have enough of it because beyond the waters, most of the creeks and even a lot of land we have within the upland area are also encumbered because of the oil exploration and oil spillages that have taken place in the last several years.

“So, we won’t have land at all in Delta State, obviously not for cattle colonies.” adding that the killings by the Fulani herdsmen is not new call for a more proactive effort to address the situation.

“Well, I actually think that there is a lot that needs to be done because this problem has been on apparently in the last few years, it appears to have taken a new dimension. Because the killings you are hearing about now, because of the large numbers in Benue and Taraba States, it is coming more and more to the fore, but those killings you find them everywhere.

“Even as I was here (in Abuja Monday), I got a report that somebody was killed in my state by one of the herdsmen also and I believe that we have pockets of that everywhere. I think that the security agencies must stand up to this very very wrong approach to the issues of cattle rearing because when people come out and they carry guns, I don’t think that that was what used to happen in the past.

“Because in the past, we used to see herdsmen, they come in, they relate to the people in the various villages, that is not the position at the moment. But when you just stroll into people’s farms, stroll into peoples lands and continue to do all manner of things, it is not right. I believe that there has to be a strong statement coming out from the presidency and such strong statements will possibly spur up the Security agencies to take appropriate actions.” Mr. Okowa said.

The governor advocated for a policy that would put a stop to the reckless killings of innocent citizens, adding that statement from the presidency will spur the security agencies to action.

“First I believe that every herdsman must be totally disarmed because it is not the right thing to do, I don’t think that they are empowered to carry guns as they do, no Nigerian is empowered to carry such riffles except if they are members of security agency. So, we must do that. And I think that the Federal Government itself must come up with a strong policy and that policy will be on the issue of trying to encourage cattle ranching in one manner it the other.

“I believe there is enough land within the various northern parts of the country and the suggestion by the Minister of Agriculture at the onset of this administration where he intended to import the fast growing grass that could be used. Yes, that could cause some money but there is nothing that is done at this moment in terms of spending money to avert all forms of crisis and all manner of unspeakable deaths that will be too expensive for us.

“I believe that if we go in that direction and put up irrigation system, eventually the kind of land that is available in the north that is currently un-utilised and which can be used to grow some of these fast growing grass, I think it is going to help so that they are able actually to situate them appropriately while beginning to encourage individual farmers or a co-operative group of farmers to actually own their own ranches, that is a long term process.

“But before then, a policy should be set out in which they are able to aggregate them in some places, then within those areas where there is a clear understanding and there is enough lands for them. In most parts of southern parts of the country now, we don’t have enough lands for our farms and all the issues we are talking about now concerning agriculture is actually becoming a problem asking people to go into farming because they are not sure when their crops are going to be destroyed.”

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