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The position was taken against the background of recent criminal activities of herdsmen across Yoruba land, particularly the killings of a pregnant woman in Ekiti State, a farmer in Ogun State and the setting ablaze and destruction of the farms of former Secretary to the Federal Government (SFG), Chief Olu Falae; ex Naval Chief, Vice-Admiral Samuel Afolayan; former Secretary to the Oyo State Government, Mr. Dele Adigun, and Mrs. Roseline Ogege in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Rising from an extra-ordinary session held in Lagos yesterday to address the matter, the body in a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odunakin, condemned the renewed hostilities in Yoruba land, challenging the federal government to stop the attacks as he vowed that no part of the Southwest would be set aside as cattle colonies.
According to Odumakin, “We took strong objections to the obnoxious and vexatious proposal by the federal government to establish cow colonies across Nigeria in aid of private business and in violation of the sensibilities of different nationalities whose lands would be partitioned for Fulani herdsmen reminiscent of the Berlin Conference where Africa was portioned for different colonial powers as a colony presupposing a settlement of invading power in a given community where alien laws and values prevail.
“The meeting resolved that no inch of Yoruba land will be available for cow colony as Yoruba are in favour of only ranching of cattle where those in such business will acquire land according to extant rules and subject their operations to the norms and culture of their host communities.
“It is against this background that we called on Yoruba people to begin venturing into modern ranching for home consumption and export while our state governments should evolve policies in promotion of ranching by Yoruba people.
The leaders were disturbed by the recent hostilities, which they described as unprovoked, provocative and unwarranted.
“These renewed attacks on Yoruba property and persons were considered unwarranted, provocative and brutal assault by marauding elements who now carry on as if the laws of the country have been suspended on their behalf by complicit authorities.
“We condemn these assaults and call on the federal government to be alive to its responsibility by enforcing the laws against these criminal activities and perpetrators of such in order to regain the confidence of the people.”
The leaders suggested that the federal government should take some more proactive measures to end the menacing activities of the killer herders.
Accordingly, they said: “Government should do the following to end the menace of the armed herdsmen currently threatening peace, order and productivity in the county: ‘declare the killer herdsmen and militias as terrorists, disarm the herdsmen and militias and probe the source of their arms’.
“Government should also stop the mass illegal immigration of armed Fulani and others into Nigeria through the far northern and northwestern borders of Nigeria. An inquiry into the serial cases of illegal weapons that have been discovered at the Lagos port in recent time as they pose serious challenge to our security.”
The meeting presided over by Chief Ayo Adebanjo was attended by Prof Banji Akintoye, Dr. Amos Akingba, Dr. Kunle Olajide, Senator Femi Okurounmu, Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Senator Kofo Bucknor-Akerele, Mr. Goke Omisore, Chief Supo Sonibare, Dr. Femi Adegoke, Hon Oladipo Olaitan, Otunba Deji Osibogun, Mrs. Tokunbo Ekukinam, Mr. Bolaji Ogunseye and several others.
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State Government yesterday denied insinuations that it had agreed to set up a cattle colony in the state, describing the rumour as unfounded.
The government noted that rather than playing politics with cattle rearing, it was approaching the herdsmen issue as a business, with the establishment of a ranch at Elebele Palm Estate, in line with international best practices.
Accordingly, it explained that no occupant of the area at Elebele can erect any structure aside the rearing and butchering of cows , stressing that it was collecting taxes from the herdsmen operating there whichever part of the country they come from.
Doodei Week, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, who made the assertion yesterday, added that Bayelsa has also embarked upon diversifying the economy to create jobs and ensure food security.
He added that over 600 young graduates have already been trained in various fields of agriculture, especially in areas where the state has comparative and competitive advantage.
The commissioner spoke during the Inter-Ministerial/Agency Press Briefing organised by the Ministry of Information and Orientation to showcase the achievements of Governor Henry Seriake Dickson’s six-year administration.
Doodei said the upland fish farm at Igbogene remained an example of what the future of agric-business in the state would be.
He explained that the fish farm runs the full business circle, with hi-tech hatcheries, 500 ponds, fish feed mill and fish processor and dryers, Bayelsa holds the promise of not only feeding the state but also generate income through fish export.
The Commissioner said that the Ebedebiri Cassava farm is another big ticket project would deliver 30 million tonnes of starch annually.
Doodei described the cassava project as the biggest in the country and Bayesla state’s contribution to saving hundreds of millions of dollars expended annually to import starch for industrial purposes.
He also mentioned the Integrated Poultry at Ebedebiri, as another star project being undertaken by the state government.
The commissioner said there are future plans to replicate the fish farm in every local government area of the state to generate employment for the teeming youths, stressing that work has commenced at the 250-hectare Southern Ijaw Local Government Fish Farm.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Information of Information and Orientation, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, posited that the issue of food security must be tackled headlong with the fast growing population, insisting that a nation that cannot feed itself is not fully sovereign.
He said the administration of Henry Seriake Dickson had recorded life-long achievements in the agricultural sector with visible evidence for people to see.
The commissioner said that sustained peace in the state would create a virile environment for more successes in every sector.