By: Valentine Adese and Ifeanyi Okonkwo
When many have felt the peace in Plateau State has come to stay, the remote cause(s) that led to various crises in the past in the state have started showing their ugly heads.
You would recall that most panels of inquiry into most Plateau State crises in the past have continue to indict politicians in the state to be the root cause(s) of the crises that had rocked the state, which had recorded hundreds of deaths and properties worth millions of naira destroyed, apart from alleged religions, land claiming intension and profit making merchants whom are yet to be identified.
Just like in the past and under the administration of Chief Joshua Dariye, the open for-all-crises that rocked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, led to a lot of tension and suspicions, which made the administration not to conduct local government elections for the people of Jos North Local Government Area in the eight years of the administration.
The spillover of the political rift was experienced in the era of the immediate past PDP administration in the state led by Senator Jonah David Jang, when the administration owing to its conviction, conducted election for Jos North Local Government Area.
History has it that, worthy lives and properties were lost to the crisis that followed.
With the suspicion of the citizens now spreading to other local government of the state over the intended provision of grazing reserves or ranches, the peace in the state is coming under threat again owing to the disagreement of political leaders in the state.
It is very clear that in a recent press brief, the Tarok people in Plateau state have come out openly to reject in total the grazing reserve or ranching plan in their areas.
Youths also, in their numbers have besieged the state government house in anti of pro grazing reserve policy protest.
The political elites in the state from different views have also added their voices in the rejection of the policy and have advised Governor Simon Lalong to look the other way and also for him to emulate the other Governors of the Middle Belt states in rejecting the policy.
For the PDP Chairman in the state, Damishi T. Sango, the grazing reserve plan by Governor Lalong, is a “Time Bomb.”
While the economy and the revenue of the state is dwindling and unemployment rate is increasing political observers are of the view that a further threat to the existing peace in the state, will not mean well.
However, the tarok people under the aegis of Vendel O'tarok Movement on 18th June, 2016 in jos, have stated thus:
“We have been forced by the current tensed situation of “The National Grazing Reserve Establishment and Development Bill, 2011”, sponsored by Senator Zainab Kure before the National Assembly to issue this press statement indicating our vehement refusal and total rejection to the Grazing Reserve Commission Bill. We reject the bill in its entirety for the purpose of peace, unity and progress.
“Similarly, we are here to refute, reject and refuse that any inch of Tarok land be given for the purported grazing reserve.
“The statement credited by PRTVC to the Government of Plateau State, the Commissioner of Water Resources, Engr. Ja’afaruWuyep, the interim Committee Chairman of Langtang North, Chief Dan Dul and the PonzhiBwarat, S.S.Sambo that the people of Langtang North have agreed to give out 5 hectares of land out of their heritage for the grazing reserve, is a fallacy, non-existent and the imagination of those who are looking for acceptability and support from President Muhammadu Buhari and the Caliphate.
“The conflicting statements by state functionaries, like the Governor, the DG, Peace Building Agency and the Commissioner of Water Resources are merely diversionary to hoodwink the gullible members of the general public into accepting the Grazing Reserve Bill in the name of ranching which does not exist in the Bill.
“We have consulted members of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Leaders, Stakeholders and Custodians of the land in Langtang North and Langtang South LGAs and by extension, Plateau State but they were shocked at the listing of Plateau State as one of the eleven states and the FCT, mentioned by the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe as grazing reserve, but members were blunt that no inch of the state's land will be surrendered for any grazing reserve. They rather, are expecting an apology from the Governor, the Commissioner of Water Resources and all those that were involved in the statement. Worthy of commendation are; Honourables Daniel Dem, Amos Kumtul, Geoffrey Lamdip, Peter Gyendeng, NyamDareng, Ezekiel Afon, Simon Kudu, Daniel Na’anlong, Jacob Kassam, Plateau G17 Youths, Plateau Women and all those who stood for the struggle against the Grazing Reserve Commission Bill.
“It is pertinent to note that Plateau Stakeholders should not view this anti grazing reserve bill on party line because we cannot have a piggery or dog breeding in the core north.
“Let it be on record that we reject in totality, any attempt to take over our land in any guise for the expansion of Jihad and promotion of the herdsmen's business of rearing and selling cattle. Dr. Austin Monye of the University of Benin said "it might interest you to know that some Northern Governors are secretly against the grazing reserve because they fear the influx of foreigners from Libya, Chad, Niger, Senegal, Guinea and other African countries may constitute security risk rather than bring peace”.
“The National Grazing Reserve Establishment and Development Bill is desirous of creating a commission to be headed by a Chairman, appointed by the President thus; if the Commission Chairman is to be appointed by the President and if his recent appointments is anything to go by, then the chairman will either be appointed from the North-West or North-East, and/or a Muslim who may not work for the interest of Plateau State. What has the APC Government in Nigeria done to internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, etc?
“Furthermore, the Commission shall have the power to take your land; anywhere the land is located in the country and pays you compensation. Your land, when taken shall be assigned to herdsmen who shall use it for grazing purposes. They shall bring cows to the land and you shall loose the land permanently to those Fulani herdsmen. If you feel that the commission was not right to have taken your land, you can go to court but before you go to court, you must first of all notify the Federal Attorney General before you can sue. So that means, if the Federal Attorney General refuses to give his consent to the suit, you have lost your land forever to the herdsmen. And this law, when passed, shall apply to the whole country so your land in the village and anywhere is not safe.
“It therefore means that the National Grazing Reserve Commission will have the power to take away your land from you anytime they want and pay you whatever they want as compensation even when you don't want to sell and remember that for you to get compensated, you must have documents showing or proving ownership (eg. C of O or R of O). Thus, South-South, South-East, South- West, North Central and North East must watch out.
“We are calling on all well-meaning Nigerians; devoid of party lines to come out in mass to force our members in the National Assembly to reject in totality the National Grazing Reserve Commission Bill and frustrate its passage into law for the corporate existence of Nigeria as its passage will dismember our country into pieces”.