Some governors and youths from the south-south, including the Ijaw Youths Council, have opposed the idea of the establishment of cattle colonies in all parts of the states.
Before now, the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike had declared that he will not be favourably disposed to providing land in his state for the cattle colony. In fact, he said he had no such land to give out.
He had said: "We will not allow our state to be controlled by external forces. We will not be drawn into debates on cattle colony. We don't have land for any cattle colony in Rivers State ".
The Rivers state chapter of the APC, in reacting to the position of the governor, said they could not force the governor to provide land for the cattle colony, even though they would have preferred to have the colony.
Mr. Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, spokesman of the state APC chairman said in response to an electronic mail from TNN that “he is the governor and if after due consultation with the stakeholders in the state and they resolved to act in this manner, we have no objection to it, though we would have loved a situation where all the governors of the federation will sit with the minister of agriculture and discuss this issue appropriately to know the merits and demerits of the policy and take a stand that will be best for the country.”
And in Cross River, the governor, Prof Ben Ayade has also rejected the idea. The governor who spoke through his chief press secretary, Mr Christian Ita, said Cross River had no land for cattle colony.
Reacting to a question about the government's position on cattle colonies and whether the government was providing the 5,000 hectares of land requested for the colony in the state, Ita simply replied via a text message: “No to cattle colony.”
By rejecting the request, the state government is toeing the path of other southern states that have also turned down the request.
The federal government came up with the idea because of the belief that cattle colonies stem the Fulani herdsmen/farmers' clashes that have resulted in the loss of lives and destruction of property worth millions of naira in some parts of the country.
Southern governors rejected the request because of the fear that the Federal Government was trying to Islamise the country through the backdoor.
The widespread suspicion in many quarters in the south is the fear that the herdsmen would eventually colonise the territories that will be allocated to them in the south, thereby constituting a security threat to those host communities by the time they begin to expand their activities beyond the territories allotted to them.
Also speaking on the issue, an environmentalist, Mr Allagoa Morris said cattle rearing was a private business and the operators should therefore not expect to have land from the government for their personal business.
Morris said: “I don't understand what is meant by cattle colony but I know cattle rearing is private and not government business Just as individual states are dealing with the issue of trailers, this cattle matter should not be different
“Whatever little space state governments will provide as slaughter or ranch owned and fully controlled by the individual state government, I prefer that to this old fashioned roaming of herdsmen in our environment. We ought to have passed that stage in our civilisation.
“Since it is a private business like poultry, individual farmers/rearers should seek ways of containing their herds within certain given spaces, whether the owners are indigenes or not
The federal government cannot impose such on the states. .It is unconstitutional and unacceptable. For instance Bayelsa which has very limited land space; we cannot afford it. Even if it is Bayelsans who are going into cattle rearing, the individuals should know that it is private concerns and they should go about how to acquire space for their cows privately
“The Fulani folks shouldn't venture into using the alibi of cattle grazing to colonise the rest of the country. If they so like our green grasses for their cows, then they should seek ways of renting land from anyone willing to rent/lease land for any number of time. We have sacred lands, cemeteries and need for land to develop our state, even farming.”
President of the Ijaw Youths Council, IYC, Mr Pereotubo Owielaemi told TNN in an online interview that cattle colony cannot be accepted in any part of Ijaw land.
He said “Let me tell you, government has no hand in any person's private business. Cattle rearing or farming is a private business so I do not understand why government is dissipating all these energy and resources in trying to protect cows instead of protecting the citizenries.
“Cattle farmers should be allowed to do their business. If a cattle farmer wants a plot of land, he or she should approach the owners of the land to acquire the said land to do his business and not the government asking for lands on behalf of the cattle rearers. You can't bring your cattles to come and take over my farmland then destroy all my crops in the name of freedom of movement or whatever you call it. To cut a long story short, we are not in support of colonies and government should allow cattle rearers to apply for lands anywhere they need land and not under the cover of federal government.”