The Benue State Government has said it is not opposed to the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) in the state as long as it does not conflict with the state anti-open grazing law, which bans open grazing of all animals.
The government made this position known on a day governors of the 19 northern states met under the auspices of the Northern Governors Forum and decided to adopt the NLTP as a means of addressing the incessant farmers/herders clashes across the country.
The governors, who met on Thursday at the Council chamber of Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna said the NLTP is different from the Ruga Initiative and that the plan has the capacity to ensure resettling and addressing the dislocated populations in the key conflict zones to enable them to become part of the agricultural modernization process.
The chairman of the Forum and Plateau State governor, Simon Bako Lalong, who read the communiqué to journalists after the meeting, said the programme, which lays out a clear path for modernizing pastoral activities “would provide a mechanism for peaceful dialogue and reconciliation in the affected communities towards a harmonious mutually beneficial future”.
He disclosed that the plan is to be implemented in seven pilot states of Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara, but encouraged other states not included in the pilot project to try and key into it as it will not only develop Nigeria’s livestock sector but also address both economic and security challenges posed by the incessant conflicts between herders and farmers in the country.
Speaking to newsmen after the meeting, Benue State Governor, Dr Samuel Ortom, who was represented by his deputy, Engr Benson Abounu, said the programme would be acceptable to the state as long as it conforms to the state anti-open grazing law, which provides for the establishment of ranches and livestock administration, regulation and control.
Governor Ortom said the fundamental thing about the national livestock transformation plan is that any state that keys into the programme is expected to have it as its own programme, even if some help regarding the funding is going to come from the federal government.
“It depends on whichever state is willing to key into it. But at this initial stage, there are seven states at the pilot stage. With regards to Benue, whatever is going to happen in this area of animal husbandry, that thing has to be in conformity to the local laws of Benue that is in existence. Principally, that law says there should be no open grazing and there should be ranching of animals that anybody is going to rear”.