The Benue State Government, Thursday, said it rejected the establishment of Cattle Colonies, Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlements and Grazing Reserves or any other plans by the federal government in order to secure the lives of the people of the state.
Governor Samuel Ortom, in a press statement, by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Nath Ikyur, however, reiterated that Benue’s position has not changed on the matter.
He noted that the state government only acceded to the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP), because the National Economic Council (NEC), which has the 36 state governors as members, approved it after a series of engagements and incorporated suggestions by stakeholders from the state.
The governor said with the NLTP, states were at liberty to adopt and implement aspects of the plan that suited their peculiarities, adding that “unfortunately, the Presidency rejected this but would rather continue to dribble Nigerians.
“For us, in Benue State, our peculiarities are that we have a ranching law and in the area of livestock farming, our competitive advantages include indigenous cattle, piggery, goats and fisheries, etc. All these have been captured in the plan and Benue State has accepted the implementation of the Plan based on these conditions.”
Ortom was also described as spurious, a statement credited to a former presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie, that he was in support of the RUGA plan, saying the state government was listed as one of the states that applied for funds from the federal government for the purposes of establishing ranches.
“We read insinuations in the media, where former presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie, tried to give a false narrative about the stand of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
“Onochie made spurious allegations, painting the picture that Governor Ortom supports RUGA because the state government was listed as one of the states that applied for funds from the federal government for the purposes of establishing ranches.
“However, it is clear to us that Onochie is not ready to amend her ways, which is why the Senate roundly rejected her nomination as a Federal INEC Commissioner.”
Ortom said it was mischievous for Onochie to drag him into an argument she lacked knowledge about, and advised that if the ex-presidential aide “has any modicum of decency remaining in her tainted pedigree, she should rather commend Governor Ortom for insisting on ranching as the win-win solution to herdsmen attacks on farming communities, which has now been embraced by others states and the federal government.”