John Adams, Minna
The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, has ordered the immediate revocation of all lands illegally acquired within the Bobi Grazing Reverse in the Mariga local government area of the state.
The Governor gave the directive on Friday when he personally led a high powered delegation from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to inspect ongoing projects at the Bobi Grazing Reserve with a view to fast-track the completion of 35,000 hectares of the grazing reserve.
The officials of the CBN, led by the Special Advicer to CBN Governor on Development Finance, Mr Anthony Ifechukwu, were in Minna as part of plans to partner with the state government to develop the Bobi Grazing Reserve and other grazing areas in the midwestern state.
The Governor, who conducted the officials of the CBN around the grazing reserve, reiterated the determination of the state government to transform the livestock industry in Niger as part of his administration’s effort towards creating job opportunities for the mass of unemployed youths in the state.
Although the Governor said the state government had already provided some funds for the take off of the project, the Central Bank will finance the private sector towards realising the project.
According to him, “Although the state government has laid the foundation, more still needs to be done. I am in the facility to monitor progress of work. I have seen that the preliminary plans have been made as the private investors have began to move to site.”
The Governor disclosed that one of the private investors, WAMCO, that has agreed to partner with state government has already moved some equipment to the project site.
He explained further that the state government would provide the community with electricity, security and pipe borne water, adding that government would commence sensitisation of the people of host communities to enlighten them on the benefits of the reserve, “as well as the need for a cordial relationship between the community and the investors.”
Governor Sani Bello explained that the RUGA (Rural Grazing Area) policy of the Federal Government was a deliberate plan to provide lasting solutions to the incessant farmers-herders violence in the country, stressing that “Niger State will key in fully into the implementation of the policy.”
The Governor warned district heads, community leaders and individuals in the area to desist from selling land within the grazing areas, and directed that all land illegally acquired within the reserve be revoked with immediate effect.
“The underlying problem at the moment is the issue of farmers residing illegally on the reserve. To solve this problem, we have resolved to revoke all the lands sold out on the initial 30,000 hectares gazetted for this project.
“However, all farmers using the land for farming will be pardoned for this year’s farming season,” he indicated.
Earlier, the Special Advicer to the CBN Governor on Development Finance, Mr Anthony Ifechukwu, said that the 35,000 hectares of the grazing reserve was well situated, adding that about four private investors have already indicated interest in developing the reserve.
Meanwhile, WAMCO representative Stanley Obiakor said the company believed in the project and will support it for the benefit of the herdsmen, the state and the country at large.
Part of the transformation efforts of the state government include partnering with private firms to establish the first indigenous milk processing centre in Nigeria; establishment of the largest grazing area where varieties of cattle feed can be produced both for local and international consumption; provision of a permanent settlement area for herders equipped with modern facilities such as clinic, police outpost, school for nomads, among other things.