By Jimitota Onoyume
PORTHARCOURT— FORMER President, Ijaw National Congress, INC, Professor Kimse Okoko, has flayed Bayelsa State Government for allocating 1,200 hectares of land as grazing reserve for Fulani herdsmen in the state.
Professor Okoko who spoke to newsmen, yesterday, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, expressed concern, saying the move by the government could expose the state to incessant clashes between residents and Fulani herdsmen.
He said there was no way oil palm farmers could harvest their produce in the 1,200 hectares grazing reserve in the state without running into conflict with Fulani herdsmen.
Describing the action of the state government as unfortunate, Okoko said it was wrong to provide a grazing area for the Fulani herdsmen in the state, stressing that the grazing area was largely at the root of the crisis in Benue, Kaduna, Enugu, Delta and Akwa Ibom states between residents of the states and Fulani herdsmen.
He said: “The flash points in the country, Enugu, Delta, Southern Kaduna, Uyo (Akwa Ibom), almost weekly, we read of confrontation with herdsmen. This is what you read almost daily in the country. You can see the opposition against grazing lands. Why should the government bring this unnecessary problem to Bayelsa. About 7.5 perent of Bayelsa is water. He (Seriake Diskson) brings the herdsmen and gives them 1,200 hectares and is telling Bayelsans that it is a way of controlling cows from moving about. That is ill-advised because you cannot control the movement of cows.
“How could you tell Bayelsans that you can control their movement? Palm trees can no longer be harvested under safe conditions without conflicting with the herdsmen.”
He said the argument that more taxes would be generated from the grazing area was untennable, stressing that more taxes would certainly have come from the oil palm farming in the state if developed.