By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
The tension generated by the silence of Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, over the establishment of the proposed Federal Government cattle colonies in the state, is still palpable among the residents.
South-East Voice noted that in some quarters, they believed that the governor had rejected the proposed cattle colonies while others believe he has not.
This is not without the uncertainties surrounding the controversial cattle colonies that have attracted backlashes against the government.
One of the reasons given to South-East Voice was that while other state governors in Igboland quickly rejected the proposed cattle colonies, the Imo State Government took its decision after the residents voiced out that they would resist any attempt to have a cattle colony in the state.
It was as a result of what has been described as silence by the Okorocha administration, that many were tempted to conclude that his (Okorocha) government had agreed to provide land for the Fulani herdsmen for a cattle colony.
The question on the lips of the people of the state bordered on the silence by the government on a critical national issue that was seen as very important in order to save lives and property.
As the residents could no longer wait for the government to publicly reject the issue of cattle colonies, some agitated residents said the best option for them was to stage a protest to make known their position on the matter.
This was why one Ifeanyi Osinachi said: “This is not a matter the Imo State Government should waste time before taking a decision because we have seen what the Fulani herdsmen have done to their host communities for many years.”
He went further to say: “You may look at it from the angle that Okorocha is the only All Progressives Congress, APC, governor in the South-East zone, but I insist it is unfortunate if you see that as very important compared to the lives of the people in this state. Please, we must be able to take a stand quickly when it comes to this kind of issue.”
In his own view, the former Imo State chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor Chidi Osuagwu, argued that the position of Ohanaeze against establishment of cattle colonies, superseded any contrary decision.
“I think the stand of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo overrides that of the state governors on this issue. Ohanaeze has pointed out that the Igbo have the muduru cow industry in Igboland.
“As it relates to cattle rearing, the Igbo have a powerful industry of cattle rearing that was destroyed by the Nigeria /Biafran civil war. After the war, the Federal Government promised officially to help reactivate that cow industry.
“Now that they are talking of creating of cow colonies in Nigeria, the Igbo demand that the government should support us to rehabilitate the muduru cow industry which the civil war destroyed and the Federal Government promised to reactivate. It is time for them to fulfil that promise.”
For the National President of Igbo National Council, Mr. Chilos Godsent, “Governor
Okorocha should speak out to enable the public know the position of Imo State on the issue of cattle colonies by the Federal Government.
“We would want to know if he has actually provided a space for them. The public should be aware of the feelings and position of the government on this issue.”
Following the angry reactions from a report said to have emanated from the office of the Ministry of Information, Mr. Nnamdi Obiaraeri, in which he said that the government has not given any land for cattle colonies in the state.
According to Obiaraeri, “The attention of the Rescue Mission Government of Imo State has been drawn to the wild and unsubstantiated rumour currently making the rounds that parts of Imo State have been earmarked for the establishment of cattle colonies.
“This information is wicked, unfounded and untrue although it represents the typical product of warped thinking of desperate mischief makers via the social media.
“Out of abundant caution, the Rescue Mission Government of Imo State restates that there is no law, policy, decision, plan, request or intention to cede, allocate or designate any part of Imo State as a cattle colony.
“The Regional Cattle Market in Okigwe is not a cattle colony in just the same way that the cattle markets in Lokpa in Abia State and Awka in Anambra State respectively, are not cattle colonies.
“Ndi Imo and members of the public are therefore advised to disregard these baseless and laughable rumours.
“It is unfortunate that manufacturing wicked and capricious lies on an hourly basis has become the hallmark or DNA of desperate oppositon politicians in our dear state.
“These shameless elements and agents of national disunity have consistently, both in words and deeds, shown themselves to be sworn enemies of Ndi Imo in particular and Nigerians in general.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the dastardly act of extra-judicial killng or taking of lives and or wanton destruction of the properties of other citizens by blood thirsty herdsmen or ethinic militias or terrorists anywhere in the country, stand condemned.
“Criminality can neither be legalised nor excused by diversionary labelling or dangerous over-generalisations as a crime remains a crime no matter by whom committed.
“This is to reassure Ndi Imo that the Rescue Mission Government is willing, ever ready and prepared to defend the lives and properties of Imolites and will not hesitate to deal decisively with criminal offenders accordingly to the full weight of the law.”