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Open Gazing: Delta Govt in doublespeak, denies proposing 125000 hectares of land for ranching 

The land is not free, who says southern can’t own a Ranch – Top Delta Govt Official 

Delta State Government in what appears as face-saving measures have made a u-turn, denying that the State made provision for “5,000 hectares of land designated for regulated or restricted grazing and ranching in every local government area.” 

Advocate.ng reported on Monday, a move by Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, (MACBAN) requesting Delta State Government to grant its members 750,000 square meters of land as designated space for grazing and ranching as deliberations progress on the “Delta State Livestock Breeding, Rearing, and Marketing Regulation Bill, 2021,” before the State House of Assembly.

Advocate.ng investigation revealed that against the 125,000 hectares of land proposed in the “Delta State Livestock Breeding, Rearing, and Marketing Regulation Bill, 2021,” which translates to 5000 hectares of land in each of the 25 local government areas of the State, Miyetti Allah (MACBAN) is requesting for 30,000 hectares of land per local government.

The copy of the draft Bill shows that: “Section 8 (1) of the bill stated that; “There shall be the establishment of designated areas for Livestock Breeding, Rearing, and Marketing… and Section (2) states that the designated areas referred to in the subsection (1) of this section shall comprise: (a) ‘A minimum of 5,000 square meters land’ set aside in every local government to build ranches.”

MACBAN interest was revealed during the public hearing on the Bill for a Law to provide for Regulation of Livestock Breeding, Rearing and Marketing and to Prohibit Open Grazing and related matters in Delta State, held Monday, 26th July 2021.

Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu while speaking on ‘The Morning Show’ on Arise TV’ said the law to ban open grazing in the state would promote healthy and harmonious living among farmers and herders.

He noted that the law was not targeted at any section of the society but to provide a healthy living among stakeholders in the farming and cattle rearing business.

Aniagwu said constant clashes between farmers and herders in the country necessitated the call for legislation to ban open grazing, especially in Southern Nigeria.

He blamed President Muhammadu Buhari for not providing adequate leadership in resolving the crisis adding that the State House of Assembly had conducted a Public hearing on the Bill before going on recess.

Assuring that the Bill for Delta would be passed as soon as the Assembly returns from their annual recess, Aniagwu stated, “Let’s take away the politics and the primordial sentiments from the crisis. I do not blame these individuals who are opposed to the ban on open grazing.

“I blame the President because I assume that he should be able to understand. Those who advise him, have a clearer picture of what obtains in advanced societies. The crop is the source of livelihood of the farmer even as the cattle are also the source of livelihood of the herder.

“How do you strike a balance if the source of the livelihood of the herder now progresses to a level where it subjects the farmer to abject poverty on account of the regular trampling on the farms, produce and crops of this farmer which of course has been the centre of the clashes

He added that the, “proposed bill has a proposal for 5,000 hectares of land designated for regulated or restricted grazing and ranching in every local government area.

“Here in Delta, we are very determined to regulate it not to only ban grazing in open areas but to promote healthy living between the owners of the livestock and of course those of us who are either into consumption, marketing, breeding or rearing”, he stressed.

Delta Government Backstep 

However, following the backlash that trailed the state position and provision in the bill, the state government through Commissioner for Information, Mr Aniagwu, Friday, issued a statement denouncing its earlier position and going further to ask Deltans to disregard its former position on the grazing bill relating to 5,000 hectares of land designated for ranching and grazing.

In a new press release titled “Delta govt clarifies position on open grazing ban”, the State Government explained on Friday that it was not acquiring lands for herdsmen as wrongly reported in some quarters.

Aniagwu said the statement released in Asaba, that the bill before the State Assembly was for the regulation of livestock breeding, raring and marketing in the state.

He said contrary to the misinformation in the public, the state was not acquiring any land for the purpose of establishing ranches.

He stated that ranching like any other business was a private concern and therefore anyone interested in establishing ranches in any part of the state was free to acquire land for the said purpose in accordance with relevant laws that regulates private ownership of any legitimate business.

He urged Deltans and the general public to disregard the earlier information that government was providing land for herdsmen as an alternative to ban on open grazing.

However, the unanswered question is there a provision in the Bill that provides 5,000sm’s of land in each of the 25 local governments of the state which translates to 125,000 hectares of land as a “designated areas for Livestock Breeding, Rearing, and Marketing and a minimum of 5,000 square meters land’ set aside in every local government to build ranches?

 

Page 3 of the draft BILL shows that there is a provision for 5000 hectares of land for ranching:

 

The land is not free, who says southern can’t own a Ranch

However, a top Delta State government official who spoke to Advocate.ng in confidence, said that the land designated for ranching will not be given out for free.

According to him; “I think you guys are the ones missing it here. First of all, how many of those making noise appeared in the public hearing on this matter? Every Deltan had an opportunity to do so but they didn’t and then they will be looking for who to blame.

“That said, has anybody bothered to see the contents of the bill? Why not wait? From the little I know, people interested in the business will have to get approval from the community for land. There will be a Committee for this. Then before approval is given by the State, the intending rancher must show proof of the necessary infrastructure in the farm such as accommodation for staff, water, clinic, security etc. You must meet the conditions which are quite stringent.

“The problem is some of us think ranching is the exclusive preserve of the Fulani. Who says you and I cannot own a ranch?

“It is one of the businesses I am prospecting after 2023. Big business, especially by the time open grazing is banned. By the time Southerners take over the business, where will you find Fulani again? He asked.

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