Gov Yahaya seeks Buhari's intervention over influx of herders

Gov. Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State has stressed the need for urgent presidential intervention to develop the Wawa-Zange grazing reserve in the state so as to accommodate migrating herders.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Gombe state governor, Inuwa Yahaya. [Presidency]

The governor made the appeal while briefing State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja on Wednesday.

He said the development of the Wawa-Zange grazing reserve had become necessary to accommodate the large number of herders heading northwards, following the implementation of the anti-open grazing law in the southern parts of the country.

The governor said: “We discussed the issue of Wawa-Zange grazing reserve. I think it is the largest grazing reserve that is gazetted in the whole of Nigeria totalling 144,000 hectares.

“I believe that Mr President earlier in 2020, precisely in his 2020 January speech acknowledged and approved that the National Livestock Transformation Plan will take-off with a model in Gombe at the Wawa-Zange reserve.

“But so far, nothing serious has been done on that, and with the recent outbursts and the position taken by governors in the southern part of this country, there is the need for us to fast-track the process of building that place so that in the event our people move in multitudes to resettle, we will have space for them.

“And we will avoid situations where there will be rancour and there will be no issues to do either with farmers/herders again or issues to do with the herders themselves having problems, because we cannot have any space for them to stay.”

He stressed the importance of implementing the grazing reserve, saying that in the event that ‘’herders are dislocated from the southern states and they have no place to return to, it will set off another crisis which may not be good for the country.”

On whether he had requested for funds from the President to implement the project, he said: “We’ve requested for funds. I believe that every other state will do so because you need the resources in order to implement, and there is scarcity of financial resources in the state.

“So, we’ve requested. I will not tell you how much. But at least, we’ve submitted a proposal that is fully backed by a feasibility report that indicates what we require.

“But with the size of Wawa-Zange, 144,000 hectares that is specifically meant for cattle and other livestock, really, there’s justification for government to put in money so that we can avoid this rancour and issues to do with farmers/herders that has already degenerated in some parts of the country into banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping for ransom”, the governor added.

He said he had also discussed the issue of the oil discovered in the Benue trough in Kolmani area around Bauchi and Gombe states, noting that a lot had been achieved in exploration in the area.

Yahaya said he also impressed on the president, the need to fast-track its take-off so that people can benefit from the resources the country is endowed with.

He praised the passion of the president in the exploration and the interest of investors in developing the oil and gas deposits in the area.

Yahaya stressed the need to exploit the oil and gas resources in the north, saying that in doing so, “we will have balance. Whilst oil and gas is discovered up north and there is oil and gas in the south, there will be balance.

“And everybody will now be his brother’s keeper trying to mingle and mix up. Everybody can enjoy the benefits of God’s endowed resources that we have in this country, if we are ready to key in and do the correct thing.”

He said the president should apply pressure on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to expedite action on the take off “knowing fully well that oil and gas is under the exclusive preserve of the federal government.”

Yahaya also spoke of the new Muhammadu Buhari Industrial Park in Dadin Kowa being developed by the state to encourage industrialists to come and invest.

According to him, necessary infrastructure such as 24-hour electricity, water and security had already been put in place.

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