Posted by News Express | 16 June 2016 | 2,831 times
The Minority Interest Rights Advocates in Nigeria (MIRAN) has asked the minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe to seek caution and apply wisdom in his quest and obvious urgency to actualise the grazing reserve agenda of the government in view of the contentious nature of the matter.
According to the group, the minister’s claim that government has enough land at its disposal to implement the grazing reserve agenda across the country is suspect in view of the lingering farmers-herdsmen conflict especially in the middle belt and other parts of the country.
Speaking after a stakeholders meeting in Jos, Plateau State, leader of the group, Comrade Iyah Iyah chided the minister and described him as flip flopping with an oxymoron of grazing reserve/ranching policy to attain food sufficiency in Nigeria. He commended the governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom for coming clean on the issue but expressed his disappointment with Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State who appears to be playing to the gallery to placate some special interests.
Iyah said that Governor Lalong is in the know of the mood of Plateau State indigenes on grazing reserves and we hope that he will not do anything that will jeopardise a state that is recovering from conflict.
MIRAN is aware of the constitutional provision that empowers state governors under the land use act to take decisions on land matters according to Iyah but warned that it must not be abused as the people are likely to resist any attempt to forcefully take their lands.
According to Iyah, land means more than a resource for livelihood to many communities in Nigeria. I know of many minority communities that land means identity, history, pride and even as religion and will do anything to protect their lands, he further took a swipe at the minister describing him as the minister of grazing reserves under whose watch, about N940 million was submitted by his ministry and appropriated for such a contentious policy.
He further urged the minister to publish for public interest and transparency, the names of the communities and individuals that he claimed had volunteered lands and the positions and sizes of such lands. MIRAN also demanded that the public be fully informed if any compensation was paid or will be paid to the land owners.
“We are afraid that in view of the current economic hardship in Nigeria, public funds may be used to entice poor communities to surrender their ancestral lands to private businessmen which is morally and ethically wrong. As an organisation, we will work with other interest groups to protect vulnerable individuals and communities from the north to the south of Nigeria on this conundrum. We are making contacts with UN agencies and other global human rights and advocacy groups to streamline the plight of helpless minority ethnic groups in Nigeria in this regard,” Iyah said.
•Photo shows Comrade Iyah Iyah.
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