By: Valentine Adese, Alfred Saiki and Chizoba Nnabugwu
Since the issue of grazing reserves and ranching policies were made public by the Federal Government and the subsequent adoption allegedly by 19 northern state governors, the relation between citizens in the Middle Belt and their state governments have been on the constant dispute line.
The public statement released earlier that the 19 northern state governors and their administrations have signed a document at a particular meeting, agreeing to provide lands for grazing reserve or ranching policies without prior consultation with those that elected them to office, had sparked the initial reactions in the six states of the Middle Belt, who are making efforts to have independence from the north.
The issue had also rocked the relationship between the Governor of Plateau State, Rt. Hon. Simon Lalong and the Governor of Benue state, Ortom, who out rightly rejected the policy after town hall meetings and consultations with his people . The governors had exchanged bitter words, countered each other, with allegations and denials on the issue.
In Plateau state, the long awaited names of local government areas and the names of the chiefs who gave out lands for that purpose is still hanging, as there are fears that the indigenous people to the local government areas are expressing hidden actions.
Just recently the people of Langtang North had expressly stated that they are not giving any inch of the land for the grazing reserve policy but, for the ranching policy, they are prepared to study the document in order not to mortgage the future of their people especially the Taroh youths and the state at large.
You would recall that the Berom people in the northern zone had earlier rejected both policies for whatever it may worth.
In Kanam Local Government Area, the Deputy Speaker through the weekend has come under fire for saying he is supporting the ranching policy since his people have accepted it.
As at the time of filing this story this morning, the Plateau state government led by Rt. Hon. Simon Lalong, is still finding it hard to convince its citizens and has therefore taken to media platforms in the state to drive home the importance of the policy.
On the political scene, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and its elected political office holders have boldly come out to reject the policy. They have also called on their supporters and loyalists to also reject same.
You would recall that at the eve of the recently celebrated democracy day in the state, the All Progressive Congress and the Governor had promised to abandon the policy immediately the people show rejection.
“So, what and why is the APC administration led by Simon Lalong pushing this policy as if it is their creation? The state is under heightened security alert immediately after the anti grazing reserve protest. You can see policemen at every distance and major junctions in the city capital.
“Or, could it be because of the alleged N5 billion that the Federal Government promised to give to any state that adopt the policy that the APC and Lalong want to mortgage the future of the people?” Pundits in the state ask.