*Says no land for ranching in the zone
*Stop peddling fake news about security situation in S-East
*Some leaders/elites lack patriotism
By Kingsley Omonobi, ABUJA
Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, has said states in the South East zone of the country have laws banning open grazing, insisting also that there is no land for ranching in his state.
Umahi, who stated this on Monday evening while appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s ”Politics Today” said: “This is not about the governors, it is about the people, so, whatever position the people take in this regard, that is what will happen. There is no land in this regard that is not owned by individuals, corporate bodies.
“So, this is beyond governors and that is the truth. People calling governors are making a very grievous mistake. Even if I say as a governor in South-East, I want people from this village, I want you to donate this land, the question is: will they allow it?
“I have had about three communal crises in my state, and it is all about land. There is a place that I am building a medical university and the people of that village, for a project that is almost completed, went and brought it down. They prefer to have their farms than a medical college. So, the land is a different ball game altogether,” Umahi stated when asked whether he would provide land for ranching as a governor.
Speaking further, Umahi noted that his people have “said they have no land for ranching. They put me where I am. If I have one acre of land and I am talking about giving land for ranching, I should be talking about that particular land. I can’t be talking about somebody’s land. Yes, constitutionally, I have control over the land but you have to kill all the people to get the land.”
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Earlier in the year, Southern Governors banned open grazing of cattle across states in the region and urged the President to address Nigerians on the state of the nation.
The governors also called for the restructuring of the country to address increasing agitations in different parts of the nation, while restating their commitment to the unity of the country.
In reaction to the ban, the presidency said the governors failed to provide any solution to the lingering crisis between farmers and herders in the country.
Seeking to proffer the needed solution, President Muhammadu Buhari in a recent interview stated that the government will return to a practice in which herders will ply designated grazing routes across the country.
The President said the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has been asked to begin the process to see how these routes can be legally put back to use, a directive which has not gone down well with many Nigerians, with some claiming that the insistence on open grazing points to a hidden agenda.
Stop peddling fake news about security situation in S-East
Governor Umahi has also called on citizens in the South East region, particularly certain leaders and elites to be patriotic and desist from spreading fake news about the true security situation in the zone.
Speaking when he paid a courtesy visit to the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Farouk Yahaya at Army headquarters yesterday, Umahi said, regarding the true security situation in the South East, “We need people to be patriotic. What we lack is patriotism in this country. Our leaders, the elites should stop dishing out fake news. This country belongs to all of us”.
Congratulating the Army Chief on his appointment, he said, “Your appointment is coming at a time of hate speeches when some unpatriotic elements are trying to push us back into crises and misunderstanding. But I must say that at this time of insecurity, the Nigerian Army has done very well”.
He continued, “There is no reason to bring politics into our security architecture. Insecurity is insecurity anywhere, just like it is in the North East and is being tackled. We must be able to speak firmly to ourselves. We must know that we are friends.
“I want you to know that we are pledging total commitment to your (Army) efforts at tackling challenges of insecurity across the country”.
Responding, the COAS, Major Gen Farouk Yahaya noted that the Nigerian Army and Ebonyi State had been cooperating in many areas including the production of ‘Campo Ration’ for troops in theatres of operation, adding that Ebonyi State has always supported soldiers in battle with Ebonyi rice that has gone a long way to feed troops.
He added: “As Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, we will further need your support to help bring about peace to that region. Once there is peace, we can now sit down and dialogue”.
Recalling his early days in the Army when he served in several locations in the South-East, Gen Yahaya said, “I know we have a partner in you (Umahi) to bring about peace and security in that zone. Let there be peace, then the dialogue can take place.”