…says it’s a ploy to seize their ancestral land
By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA— Middle Belt Forum, MBF, yesterday advised President Muhammadu Buhari to jettison any plan of reintroducing the Inland Water Ways Bill rejected by the 8th National Assembly. President of MBF, Dr Bitrus Porgu, who spoke in in Abuja, however, called on Nigerians to keep a close watch to nip the bill in the bud should Buhari reintroduce it in whatever guise to the 9th National Assembly.
Porgu said: “We were so lucky that the 8th National Assembly had leaders saw into tomorrow’s dangers. That Assembly refused to pass the Inland Water Ways Bill. Regardless of that success, the Ruga issue came up. Thanks to the concerted efforts of our peoples with our friends in the south, Ruga has been suspended.
“The Ladoga grazing reserve in Kaduna State is good enough example to warn Nigerians of the danger of Ruga. History will justify our rejection of Ruga. We would and should keep a close eye on the reintroduction of the Inland Water Ways Bill by President Buhari in this ninth National Assembly.
“The bill seeks to take away all rivers, their banks to some kilometres from state control to federal control and, therefore, take away ancestral lands for the exclusive use of the Federal Government. Your guess is as good as mine on what would happen next. Our National Assembly members must resist and reject the passage of that bill.”
Porgu, who decried the communal crisis between Tiv and Jukun of Taraba State, said: “While addressing national issues challenging our peaceful existence in our beloved areas of the Middle Belt, we are saddened by the reports of killings of Middle Belters by other Middle Belters in Taraba State. The Tiv/Jukun crisis is unfortunate as the division is not acceptable, especially now when we face major threats of corporate existence in our beloved country.
“We appeal to both Tiv and Jukun brothers of Taraba to embrace peace irrespective of the provocation and previous losses incurred. We must resist external influences aimed at dividing and weakening us. We must unite to succeed.
“Our farming communities in Taraba State should be allowed to farm for food to be on our tables. May the Almighty God establish peace in our communities.”