2018 Budget: Buhari Votes N5.30bn for Grazing Reserve Devt, as CAN Kicks Against Cattle Colonies 

The Federal government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari is going full-speed with implementing his proposed “cattle colonies” for Fulani herdsmen, despite the loud opposition to the policy, especially in the South East of Nigeria. The most telling evidence is the N5.30 billion which the government has earmarked for national grazing reserve development in the 2018 budget currently being considered by the National Assembly. 

The country is currently grappling with herdsmen and farmers clashes, leaving scores of people dead, homeless, especially in Benue, Taraba and Ekiti states, just as several states have rejected both the grazing reserve and cattle colonies proposals. 

The grazing reserve budget comes at the same time that the 19 northern states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has kicked against the Federal Government’s plan to establish cattle colonies for Fulani herdsmen across the country.

CAN averred that going ahead with the cattle colonies plan suggests that federal government knows the killers in Benue and other parts of the country.

In an interview with newsmen, Public Relations Officer of northern CAN, Rev. Joseph Hayab contended that the government was putting the horse before the cart by focusing on the provision of cattle colony.

“The issue of cattle colony will not address the killings because why are those people killing? If you provide them with cattle colony, will they stop the killing? The killings will not stop because you have not removed evil from the heart of a man and you are providing him with colony.

“Now, whose land are you going to take and provide the colony? It is when the right thing is done that the people can now sit down and talk, dialogue before we even begin to talk of providing or not providing colony.

“Government is even contradicting itself by saying those killing the people are not Fulani, so, if they are not Fulani, who, then, are you providing the cattle colony for?

“And, if the killers are foreigners, as some people are claiming, we should then give our land to criminals to stop killing us?

“I think we are seeing criminals who have taken advantage of the weakness of our security agencies and nobody is addressing it and government is telling us that criminals must be given colony to feed cattle.

“I think there is a mix-up here, because if you say you are providing colony for them, who are they? You know them, therefore, you must arrest them first because they are criminals…

“Let me tell you, I was in the team of CAN officials who visited Benue State, about two weeks ago. We visited many places in the state, what we saw was so sad.

“The killings must stop and it is only government that has all the machineries to stop the killings.

“Government must stop the killings and call for dialogue. You can imagine a man who has lost father, mother, brothers, sister, farms, cows and everything you can think of; what form of dialogue or discussion are you going to hold with him while he is in pains and killing has not stopped?

“We must put the government to task; to stop this killing and not allow it to use divide and rule to set Nigerians against themselves. 

“So, provision of colony is a wrong step that cannot address the real issue because you don’t empower criminals to overpower you in your own land.

“We are not happy because our people can no longer go to the church, go to the farm, go to the market, and so on and so forth.

Rev. Hayab concluded by noting that “We are calling on the federal government to end the killings in the region.”

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