From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, has said to stem the spate of insecurity arising from community/herders clashes around the country, the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), should be revived.
Lalong, who is also the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum, made the call while fielding questions from State House Correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Friday.
According to him, the plan will curb the farmers and herder clash and also the constant conflicts between herders and communities.
The governor expressed sadness that the farmers/ herders clashes have continued to linger, stressing that the idea of the NLTP was to move away from the old ways of rearing cows.
While noting that it was one of the points he raised with the president, Lalong said he urged Buhari to implement the plan.
Lalong said: “Incidentally I am a member of the Livestock Committee under the Vice President and I represent the north central. That was the purpose of setting up that committee and that committee made far-reaching recommendations and then funds were to be made available to pilot states, Plateau and about nine states are pilot states, to address some of these issues.
“The issue was to move away from the old ways of raring cows and to find modern ways of doing it. In some places, they will do it that way, but then in a confined environment, which was agreed to by all and that is part of the point I was raising, to remind Mr President to hasten the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
“We are still left with the herdsmen/farmers problem. The implementation of the NLTP will go a long way to address these issues.
“Whether we like it or not, we need cows and it’s also some people’s occupation, but where it leads to conflicts and raises hazards like insecurity, we have to address it.
“While we tolerate it, we must still address it because it is some people’s means of economic livelihood, but it shouldn’t be posing hazards of insecurity to anybody.”
The National Livestock Transformation Plan was established by the National Economic Council (NEC) under the leadership of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in 2019.
During its launch in October 2019, Osinbajo had explained that “the essence of the plan is that it is a collaboration between the Federal government, State governments, farmers, pastoralists and private investors.
“In this plan the State government, the Federal government does not and will not take any land from a State or local government, any participating State will provide the land as its own contribution to the project. The Federal government merely supports the project.”
Lalong, on behalf of the northern governors, also commended President Buhari for replacing the Service Chiefs
He said the action further shows Buhari’s commitment towards addressing insecurity in the country.
He said: “I came into the presidential villa in two respects; on behalf of the Northern Governors’ Forum and also as State Governor form Plateau State. I extended our felicitations to the president on a New Year and also congratulated and commended him for the steps he is taking in addressing insecurity in the country especially in Northern Nigeria.
“The change of Service Chiefs is very commendable and also to remind him about some of the things left behind by their predecessors so that we can hasten and conclude them so as to make people safe.
“We had serious cases of banditry, kidnapping and so many issues of insecurity in the country. We will not expect that to continue. So, we are going to give maximum cooperation to the new Service Chiefs, while also commending the outgone ones for their roles in addressing issues of insecurity.”
The Plateau also thanked President Buhari’s for intervening in the financial constraints facing the Northern Nigeria Development Company (NNDC) by settling the outstanding retirement benefits of workers of New Nigeria Newspapers.
“For the Northern Governors, we had a protracted problem in NNDC especially about the New Nigerian Staff, who were laid off or retired, about their gratuity and pension. The president intervened and that has taken a whole lot of weight from us as we address the issue of reviving the NNDC,” he said.
Lalong said the Northern Governors are also happy with the president’s inauguration of a steering committee on Alternate Education Programme, which will help address the problem of out of school children.
He pleaded with the president to help Plateau State to reconstruct the Jos Main Market, which was burnt in 2012.
He said rebuilding the market will cost between N12 to N15 billion.
Lalong stated: “On behalf of my State, I made an appeal to the president. In Plateau State, one of the things that was keeping us was the Jos Mani Market, which was burnt down and up till date, it is difficult for us to rebuild that market; you know market is very essential to people.
“I have tried in several ways but definitely as a father, I also came to him seeking intervention, to start rebuilding the Jos Main Market. Based on the assessment done so far, we need between N12-15 billion to rebuild that market.
“Jos Main Market was brought down by dynamites some years back; when there was insecurity, almost the same market when the World Trade Centre in US was attacked. Since then, it has been very difficult to rebuild.
“We have tried collaborating with investors but that has not worked and now we are overstretched by COVID-19. So, we cannot even do much. Recently we have been hearing about markets been burnt and interventions here and there. As it is now, we don’t have a market. So, we need such interventions too so that we can start rebuilding that market.”