In the last three parts of this vexed issue, we saw how the southern governors had met to rescue the sinking ship of state from hitting the very bottom of disintegration. They desired that it is better to stay together as one big country than to split into smithereens. But, under one condition: social justice and equity. It appears that President Muhammadu Buhari and his handlers are not capable of understanding the dire straits of today’s Nigeria. There is obvious disconnect between them and the Nigerian people. Today, we shall be drawing the curtain on the above topic, starting with pro-active steps taken by some state governors.
Pro-active steps taken by some state governors
Some governors and Houses of Assembly in Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Oyo and Osun have since taken steps by getting anti-grazing laws passed by their Houses of Assembly. Indeed, Governor Samuel Orton of Benue State has already taken proactive steps to stop being the wailing chief mourner of his people being murdered daily in cold blood by Fulani herdsmen (many a time with the active connivance of federal troops). He got the House of Assembly to enact the anti-RUGA (Rural Grazing Area) and Cattle Colony Law, called the “Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law”, No. 21 of 2017. He went further by challenging the Federal Government RUGA policy at the Federal High Court, Makurdi, in the case of AG of benue State v. AG of the Federation. On 4th February, 2020, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon of the FHC, Makurdi, held that any move by the FG to acquire land for RUGA or cattle colony in Benue State without the state government was null and void. The judge granted an order nullifying every action of the FG to establish RUGA or cattle colony. Many constitutional provisions such as sections 5(6), 9(2), 20, 44(1), 58 and 315(5) and 6(b) were considered. Also considered were sections 1, 2, 5, 6, 26, 28 and 49 of the Land Use Act vis-à-vis sections 4, 5, 6, 7 and 19(c) of the Benue State Anti-Grazing Law.
It must be pointed out that the governor of a state is the Chief Executive and Chief Security Officer of that state (sections 176(1) and 214-216 of the 1999 Constitution). By virtue of Section 1 of the Land Use Act, 1978, all land comprised in the territory of each state in the federation has been vested in the governor of that state and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians. Thus, a governor commands great power in the usage of the land in his state. In the case of NIGERIA ENGINEERING WORKS LTD v. DENAP LTD & ANOR (2001) LPELR-2002(SC), the Supreme Court, per Umaru Atu Kalgo, JSC, noted at pages 18-19 that:
“From the provisions of Section 1 of the Act set out above, it is very clear that all land in the state is ‘vested in the governor’ who shall hold it ‘in trust and for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians.’ From this, it is very clear to me that the powers vested in the governor by the Act in dealing with the land entrusted to him is a public and not private power, which he must exercise for the use and common benefit of the Nigerian public.”
Nigeria is a federation that operates the principles of federalism. Under this, the FG, states and LGAs have their respective rights and spheres of influence. There is the exclusive, concurrent and residual lists under the Constitution. This was why Justice Olajuwon of the FHC, Makurdi, held that since land in every state is controlled and managed by the governor and LGs of such states, the FG cannot whimsically and capriciously grab lands in states; but must go through either the governor or LG of such state.
Recall also that on September 10, 2019, the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, had also inaugurated the National Livestock Transformation Plan at the Gongoshi Grazing Reserve, in Mayo-Belwa LGA of Adamawa State. Inaugurating the said project, Osinbajo said the plan was designed to run from 2019-2028, as part of Federal Government’s initiative in collaboration with states, under the auspices of the National Economic Council. He said the plan, targeted at supporting the development of Nigeria’s livestock sector, was to be implemented in seven pilot states of Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara.
According to the Vice-President, the plan will be implemented as a collaboration project between the Federal and state governments, farmers, pastoralists and private investors. He said: “In this plan, the state government or private investors provide the land, the Federal Government does not and will not take any land from a state or local government…Any participating state will provide the land and its own contribution to the project. The Federal Government merely supports…It is a plan that hopes to birth tailor-made ranches where cattle are bred, and meat and dairy products are produced using modern livestock breeding and dairy methods…This solves the problem of cattle grazing into and destroying farmlands. It ensures a practical response to the pressures on water and pasture by forces of climate change”.
He noted that the plan was designed to provide modern meat and dairy industry and, in some cases, integrated crop farming. According to Osinbajo, the unique feature of the plan is that any participating state will determine its own model. Osinbanjo continued: “I wish to emphasise that this is not RUGA. Because the idea of RUGA settlements launched by the Ministry of Agriculture created a problem when it was perceived as a plan to seize lands to create settlements for herders…RUGA was not the plan designed and approved by the governors and the President rightly suspended the implementation.”
Thus, even the Federal Government at the centre had already opposed open grazing and embraced ranching. So, where did the southern governors go wrong? I cannot see it. Or, can you?
Some suggested solutions to insecurity in Nigeria
Insecurity generally poses a major threat to life and property, retards business activities and discourages local and foreign investors. All these hamper a country’s social and economic growth and development.
The following are some of the areas the government must urgently address to tackle, headlong, insecurity in Nigeria, once and for all:
i. President Muhammadu Buhari should engage Nigerians. He should stop treating his electorate with disdain. He should share in their pains, not cocooned away like a hermit. He must rise up to his duties, develop balls to tackle our problems. He begged and even cried for this position in 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2015. It was only in 2015 that he got it. He repeated it in 2019. Both elections were fundamentally flawed. But, Nigerians innocently but gullibly believed in his assumed talismanic prowess to solve our problems. He has so far abysmally failed in his tripodal campaign promises of (i) revamping the economy; (ii) dealing with insecurity; (iii) fighting corruption.
ii. The Federal Government must immediately, through the NASS, devolve powers to the federating units so as to enthrone true fiscal federalism, and not the present unitary system of government.
iii. There is the urgent need for the establishment of State Police and Community Policing within each locality, to help curb insecurity effectively.
iv. Government must declare a state of emergency in insecurity and bring about urgent improvement in our security network, regarding the training of security officers in modern security methodologies; provision of state-of-the-art equipment; appropriate remuneration; good service conditions; and convenient after-service arrangements.
v. The government must declare a state of emergency in youth unemployment and create job opportunities for the youth, as this will make them abstain from committing crimes.
vi. The government must immediately endeavour to boost people’s living standards by boosting food production, creating job opportunities for all and establishing more entrepreneurship centres across the nation.
vii. Politicians who use thugs to campaign for and win elections should be fished out, tried and barred from politics for life.
viii. The government must promote good governance, openness, transparency, accountability and inclusiveness through the use of print and digital media.
Sounds and bites
Week after week, henceforth, this column will deliberately include short bites on matters that are either sounds or bites. It would include jokes (to soothe our aching nerves); philosophical platitudes (to redirect our steps); and scriptural quotes (to pave the way to eternity). We commence this week.
“Our character is who we are when no is looking.” – Becky Van Volkinburg
“Sometimes you have to eat your words, chew your ego, swallow your pride and accept your mistake. It is not giving up. It is called growing up.”
Thought for the week
“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.” (Brian Tracy)
“We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”
(Charles R. Swindoll)