From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki has called on the federal government to provide funds for those in private business to set up ranches in the state.
He tabled this demand to President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after the meeting, the Governor while acknowledging that many southern states have passed the anti-opening grazing law as agreed, Edo was yet to do so because it wanted to be sure it could enforce the law.
Obaseki said he told the president that Edo people have resolved that ranching was a private business but since it is expensive, the federal government should make funds available for interested individuals under the National Livestock Transformation Programme.
He said: “Principally, there were four issues I discussed with him. First has to do with the position of Edo State on the anti-grazing law. As you know, most southern states have passed laws relating to open grazing, but Edo has not, because we want to ensure that whatever laws we pass are laws that we can enforce.
“We’ve had extensive consultations with our people, extensive town hall meetings, to deal with the issue that, yes, we do not want open grazing, it is out-modeled, it’s outdated, however, what are the options?
“If we are asking that we should now have ranches and these cattle should now be constrained to specific areas, such as ranches, then who provides the land?
“My people say that, as far as they’re concerned, ranching is a private business and therefore, just like every other agricultural venture, those involved should provide the land.
“As you already know, it is expensive, it is not cheap to run and manage ranches.
“So, what I came to discuss with the President was that since the people of Edo would rather invest privately, those who are interested want to make it a private concern, then the National Livestock Transformation Programme, which is now being implemented by the federal government, should acknowledge our model, and should also be able to help people benefit from the funding that is now being made available for people who want to go into the livestock business and make investments in ranches and other similar livestock programmes.
“He, as usual, took notes, and I’m sure he’s going to do something about it.”
The Governor said he also sought the President’s intervention over debts owed by federal agencies to the state.
“I informed him about some amounts that are being owed to the Edo State government by some federal agencies and he promised to look into them and to ensure that these sums are paid back to the Edo State government. So, in a nutshell, those were the things I came to discuss with Mr. President,” he stated.
He commended President Buhari for his assistance in effort to retrieved Edo artifacts from Europe and other countries, assuring him that Edo state would continue to support his administration.
Obaseki added: “The other issue was to thank the federal government, the President, for the efforts of the federal government in assisting the current efforts to return the Edo artefacts that are all over the world.
“As you may already know, there have been attempts over the last 30 years, by various people and various governments, to push for the return of these works.
“We took it as a project about three years ago, I know for me, it was a personal project, worked through most curators or museums in Europe and we were able to come to this breakthrough, which we now have received from the Germans.
“So, I want to thank the federal government for the support. As you know, these works, these artefacts, are coming from other sovereign countries and the laws of Nigeria stipulate that the federal government has preserve, exclusive rights to deal with arts, artefacts and monuments, and to pledge to the President that the Edo state government and Edo people will continue to support the federal government’s efforts.
“We’ll do all that is within our powers, to make sure that these works are brought back to Nigeria and also for them to be domiciled where they were taken from, which is Benin City.”
Obaseki also hailed the Nigerian Senate for approving the transmission of election results electronically.
He said: “Definitely if not for God and the technology utilized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I may not be Governor today. So I am one of those people who believe that we should not have elections in this country, going into the future, without transmitting results electronically from the polling units.
“Because, for elections to be credible, they have to be seen as transparent and once you have voted, you should be sure that your vote will count.”
The Governor stressed that INEC has the capacity to transmit results electronically.
“With technology today, it is possible and INEC has shown it that from my election, that as soon as you voted and the results are counted in the polling unit, then that result should be made available, such that you already know what would be collated at the ward collation point.
“What has happened in many cases in the past, is that people go and vote. The votes are counted in the polling unit but by the time it gets to the collation point, it changes.
“But this time around, because of the transparency everybody will see and know what is expected at the collating point. That is what happened during my election and I am a very strong advocate for electronic transmission of results during elections.
“I want to also note that from my personal experience, INEC has the capacity and technology and also the understanding of how this thing should work so they should be encouraged to use it. I hope and pray that the President will assent to that bill,” he said.