Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Stakeholders in Benue State have rejected the Federal government’s proposed National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) describing it as Ruga clothed in another regalia.
The stakeholders who were drawn from the traditional institution, the church, socio-cultural organisations, the academia and civil society, made their position known at the Old Banquet Hall of the Government House in Makurdi, during an interface with a delegation from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
In their separate remarks, Tor Lobi, Chief Moses Anagende and Tor Kwande, Chief Ambrose Iyortyer, who spoke on behalf of traditional rulers called on the Federal government to rather rebuild homes, schools, churches and other property destroyed during herders’ invasion of the state and to rehabilitate the highly- traumatised displaced persons who are still languishing in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.
They stated that the document detailing the NLTP and its implementation only talks about cattle and no other category of livestock, stressing that the plan was reintroduction of the rejected Ruga settlements and cattle colonies for herdsmen.
On his part, Prof. Amstrong Adejo of the Benue State University stated that the word livestock as captured in the document was holistic but the conclusion was particular about cows.
Adejo who posited that that the document was a proposal, advised the Benue State government to set up a committee to dissect it and bring up Benue’s position.
Representative of the Civil Society Organisations, Ms. Josephine Haba, wondered why Benue had recently been a theatre of killings but instead of the Federal government to address the plight of those who suffered the attacks, it had brought an architect to redesign structures for pastoralists in the state.
Others including Archbishop Yimam Orkwar, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria in Benue State; Revd, Akpen Leva, President Mdzough u Tiv; Chief Edward Ujege and former House of Reps member, Mrs. Rebecca Apezan, lamented that security men now escort the Benue people to bury their loved ones because herdsmen have occupied the people’s ancestral homes.
Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Timothy Ijir, said Benue was evolving its Agricultural Development Policy which captures the people’s interest.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Development Cooperation, SDGs and NEPAD, Dr. Magdalyne Dura, had in an address of welcome, stated that the meeting was to explain to the stakeholders in details the LTPS document which had been made available with implementation guidelines, stressing that states were at liberty to domesticate the policy based on their peculiarities.
Head of the Federal government delegation, Dr Nyager, had earlier briefed the Benue stakeholders on the National Livestock Transformation Plan, saying it was aimed at promoting animal husbandry in the country.