… says ban on open grazing backed by law
By Samuel Oyadongha, YENAGOA
GOVERNOR Douye Diri of Bayelsa State has again reiterated the ban on open grazing in the state saying his government could not afford to expose its citizenry to the looming danger.
Diri who spoke on Saturday in Yenagoa, during his maiden media chat to commemorate democracy day, insisted that Bayelsans are predominantly fishermen and that there were no grazing routes in the state.
The governor explained that though he was not countering the Federal Government’s decision to resuscitate grazing routes, his administration had put in place a legal framework to ban open grazing and movement of cattle on foot.
His words: “For us, there are no cattle grazing routes in Bayelsa State. Our people are traditionally and occupationally fishermen. We also have some hunters who will hunt to complement the fishing.
“The idea of cattle grazing routes in Bayelsa is very strange to us in this part of the country.”
Diri, who pointed out that in a federal system of government, states have rights to enact laws to regulate the activities of its people, declared that the prohibition on open grazing of cattle would be fully implemented in the state.
“There may be cattle grazing routes in the north but what is applicable in the north may not be applicable to us in the south. I don’t want to believe we are running a unitary system of government,” Diri said.
He added: “because of what we heard about farmers/herders conflicts and killings in our sister states, we decided to bring that executive bill which banned open grazing in Bayelsa. Already, we have started having reports of what was happening in our land. The latest we heard was in Ogbia where a youth was almost killed and as a government we cannot close our eyes to see a potential danger and so we couched that bill, sent it to the state house of assembly. The house of assembly did justice to it by going through all the process of law making and that again is the beauty of democracy and the federal system of government.
“Except, somebody is telling me that the state house of assembly has no power to make laws again. Every stakeholder was invited to the public hearing of that bill. Finally the house passed it, brought it to my office for assent and I wasted no time assenting to that bill and making it a law and also set up an implementation committee headed by the commissioner for agriculture. It is all provided for in the law.
“So,for us in Bayelsa there is a legal framework, a law that prohibits and inhibits movement of cattle by foot. If you want to go and slaughter your cattle, get a vehicle, don’t move it by foot. If they see you, you will certainly be arrested according to the laws of Bayelsa State.”
He also reiterated his administration’s determination to change the developmental narrative of the state noting that the urban renewal programme among other projects and policies of his administration were part of the drive to give the state a new look and make it more attractive to investors.
Diri said the state had a lot of tourism potential and that his government was open to discussion and ready to sign memorandum of understanding with partners to develop projects in the tourism sector.
He explained that the ongoing demolition of illegal structures in the state capital was in line with the administration’s urban renewal policy even as he expressed concern over the proliferation of shanties across the state capital coupled with the obstruction of traffic by traders along the major roads, which he said was unacceptable.
The governor noted that as a result of the demolition, sanity had been restored in most of its major markets in areas like Swali, Kpansia and Tombia-Etegwe, adding that some of such illegal structures serve as hide-outs for criminals.
On the issue of the federal government’s infrastructure development refund to the state, Diri clarified that the actual amount it received was N27.5 billion and not N38.4 billion as is being speculated.
He further explained that the total refund due the state was N38.4 billion but that according to the federal government, its release would not be possible in the next four years and offered the state a second option of a discounted amount of N27.5 billion through the Debt Management Office, which it got last December.
The governor also said the refund had been committed to constructing critical capital projects such as the Yenagoa- Oporoma road in the Bayelsa Central Senatorial District and the Sagbama-Ekeremor road in Bayelsa West as well as the Opolo/AIT-Igbogene ring road project, the dualised Glory Drive-Onopa road, the Nembe unity bridge and the installation of street lights in the state capital among others.
On the state-owned international airport, he announced that commercial flights would commence next month as it was in partnership with United Nigeria Airline to operate daytime flights pending when the runway lights for night flights would be installed.