Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), yesterday, at a meeting in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, rejected establishment of cattle colony and grazing reserves in any part of Yorubaland.
The meeting also resolved that it is time for President Muhammadu Buhari to change his position on the agitation for restructuring of Nigeria based on developments that have been threatening the country’s corporate existence, especially the menace of herdsmen in Benue State and other parts of the country, as well as militancy and terrorism.
YCE President General, Chief Idowu Shofola, disclosed this when he fielded questions from newsmen after a three-hour meeting on the state-of-the-nation by the council.
He said: “We don’t subscribe to the idea of cattle colony. We feel that cattle rearing and farming are businesses. If you want to go into a business, you will provide the needs for yourself. You don’t need the government to do it for you.
“Whatever business you want to do, you have to provide the money, either you have it or you go for loan from a bank, or you look for a big brother to help you out or whatever.”
Shofola noted that the land, as presently conceded in the law, “does not belong to the Federal Government. It belongs to the state under our law. Therefore, the federal government cannot just come to any part of Nigeria and say this land is this or that.
“We do not think it is necessary for anybody or herdsmen to come and do whatever they like. Let them go to the government there, buy or lease land in terms agreeable to both sides at their own expense.”
The council Secretary General, Dr. Kunle Olajide, also corroborated Shofola’s stand, saying: “YCE rejects cattle colony and grazing reserves as a solution to this problem. YCE believes strongly that the beginning of solutions to this problem is restructuring.
“Once the country is effectively restructured, foreigners will even come to Nigeria to do business. It is not the government that provides them with facilities. So, once the country is effectively restructured, it will take care of all these anomalies.
“If the government is advocating we should all go back to agriculture and then goes on encouraging a section of the country to go with cows and ravage farmlands and farm crops, you can see a contradiction, and that is a paradox. YCE rejects, in totality, cattle colony and grazing reserves.”
In a communique read earlier by Olajide, the council condemned the ineptitude of security agencies on the crisis.
“Three weeks after gruesome murder, no arrest has been made. YCE is alarmed that the leadership of an association, Myetti Allah (an umbrella body of Fulani herdsmen), who had openly been issuing threats have not been questioned. The kid glove treatment of Myetti Allah speaks volume about the neutrality of the presidency on this matter.
“YCE is also disturbed by the apparent insensitivity of sone political leaders to the current worrisome situation in the country. Barely 24 hours, after the gruesome murder in Benue State, a group of governors appeared on national television endorsing President Buhari for 2019 election, in violation of regulations of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),” the council said.