The Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, on Thursday, disclosed that he warned Benue State governor Samuel Ortom, against implementing anti-grazing law while giving no alternatives.
Lalong, when speaking to State House correspondents, after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, disclosed this.
Lalong said he was not in support of the law. He disclosed he advised the governor on other alternatives.
The Plateau State Governor said: “To be honest with you, I spoke with Ortom on anti grazing law. I told the governor of Benue when he was doing the law, I said look, why don’t you tread softly, just be careful, take other steps before you start implementation.
“But you see states are different, his concepts are different and for us on the Plateau they are different. I said I will not do the law before implementation. I have not developed the ranching areas so I cannot go and say I put a law, to stop who? If I stop the people what is the alternative?
“So I said do consultations, allow the people to understand and buy into the concepts.
“At the end of last year, something happened but I’m not saying it was between herdsmen and farmers, it was as result of criminal activities and so we focused on fishing out those criminals. Most of the crisis that happened was not on the farm, it was just pockets of Christians and Muslims killing one another and so we addressed those issues, we are handling it.
“Let me also say that Plateau was one of those that embraced ranching. I had a lot of opposition initially when I said Plateau was keying into ranching. Some states said they don’t have land but I said whether I have land or not we have to provide land for ranching because that I see as solution to the conflicts. In Plateau we have gone far, we have donated land voluntarily, many people donated land for ranching.
“Last year, I sent a team of 12 to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, they spent almost a week there to study and the team was headed by former Vice Chancellor of University of Jos, Prof. Onazi. We went round all the communities in Plateau, it took three months and Plateau people including the Fulanis accepted that we must embrace ranching.
“Ranching as a concept is a policy and there are states realizing the importance of the policy. I cannot wake up like some people said last year that I should go and do anti-grazing law. And I asked anti-grazing law for what? We are talking about ranching, we are talking about development of livestock business and I cannot use the word anti to start driving away people who are interested. It is for those who are interested to come and get involved in it.
Governor Lalong stressed that he can’t introduce the anti-grazing law without having other alternatives on ground.
“Secondly, I can’t implement anti-grazing law. There are levels of implementation which will require government intervention, provision of ranchers and thirdly, when you are talking of ranching it is a component of agriculture business you will also require subsidy. Subsidy must come from federal and state governments and by the time we develop it and put every structure on ground, then we can bring laws to regulate the implementation. So I don’t want to jump one step before the other.”
In a bid to curb these attacks, Samuel Ortom, governor of Benue state, signed the anti-grazing bill into law on May 22, 2017.
Although the governor said the law would put an end to incessant clashes, the attacks have since worsened since its implementation on November 1 of the same year.