Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has urged members of the National Assembly to remain vigilant and resist any last-minute attempts to pass legislation that would deprive Nigerians of their God-given lands in favour of pastoralists across the country.
Governor Ortom finds it curious that, since 2016, the Presidency has sent the grazing reserves bill to the National Assembly under various names, and that, despite public outcry, the Presidency remains committed to getting the bill passed.
If the current administration had focused on addressing insecurity in the same way that they have pushed for the passage of a cattle grazing reserves law, the country would be safer for all Nigerians.
The Senate rejected a contentious bill in November 2016 that sought to establish a Grazing Management Agency to ensure the creation of cattle grazing areas across the country.
In 2017, the Federal Government attempted to influence the passage of the National Grazing Routes and Reserves Bill, which adorned the same regalia. Following the alarm raised by some patriotic Nigerians, that bill was also rejected.
Following that, the government introduced the National Water Resources Bill, which had the singular goal of bringing all water sources (surface and underground) and river banks under the control of the Federal Government, a move that drew widespread condemnation from Nigerians.
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Ruga, Cattle Colonies, and other programmes were implemented by the Federal Government in order to create settlements for pastoralists in all of the federation’s states. Governor Samuel Ortom was the first to speak out against the draconian bills, according to records.
President Muhammadu Buhari approved a committee’s recommendations in August 2021 to review “with dispatch, 368 grazing sites across 25 states in the country, and to determine the levels of encroachment.” Again, Benue and other states rejected the presidential approval, and the idea died.
We understand that those intent on taking over Nigerians’ ancestral lands to give to pastoralists are looking for an opportunity to quickly pass the bill, which has now been renamed the National Grazing Reserves Council Bill. The proposed law has been in the National Assembly since it was reintroduced, and its sponsors have been trying to find the right time to pass it, sensing the mood and suspicions of the people.
The law, if passed by the National Assembly, will create a Council with the authority to take over land in any part of the country for grazing reserves and pay ‘compensation’ to the land owner(s). Pastoralists will benefit from the usurped land because their animals will have unrestricted access to it.
The National Grazing Reserves Council Bill violates not only the Constitution and the Land Use Act, but it is also a fang of impunity, subjugation, and a deeply rooted conquest agenda against Nigerians. The bill is a direct land grab designed to turn Nigerians into slaves in their own country while serving the selfish and parochial interests of herdsmen.
Governor Ortom encourages National Assembly members to act as true representatives of the people for the sake of posterity, and to remember that the future and unity of this nation are in their hands. He urges federal lawmakers to continue to reject the bill and any other covert attempt to mock millions of innocent Nigerians who have fallen victim to the occupation agenda.
It must be emphasised that the Governor’s position on national issues is motivated by patriotism rather than a personal agenda or gain. He believes in justice, fairness, and equity.