By Danusa Ocholi:
A group, “Save Kogi Project” [SKP] has rejected the “cattle colony” proposed by the Federal Government as a panacea to the farmers/herdsmen crises which have claimed hundreds of lives especially in the Middle Belt region of the country. A statement signed for the group by its coordinator Dr Umar A. Goodman and its scribe Pastor Ugbede Sam stated that the proposal by the Federal Government was a subtle move by a section of the country to recolonize the people of the State and the entire Middle Belt Region of the country.
According to the statement: “The proposal by President Mohammadu Buhari to bring the country back to the dark era of colonization for the second time is not only undemocratic, it is completely unacceptable to the people of Kogi state.”
The SKP added: “To attain our freedom from the hands of the colonial masters, who invaded our land and subjected the people to all kinds of inhuman treatment, Nigerians have to sacrifice in quantum both human and material resources in the struggle for liberation and freedom in which we are yet to recover fully, 58 years after independence and again the second attempt to recolonize the people has been hatched and handed over to some clueless governors (representatives) of Aso-rock cabals to foist it on the country in the name of “cattle colony.” The Group accused the APC-led administration of sliding into dictatorship especially for not carrying the people along in its decision to foist the so-called cattle colony on the citizens.
For Save Kogi Project, “What we have in place and which is fully operational is military democracy. It’s a fact that was collaborated by the pioneer chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) H.E. Chief Bisi Akande who in his public comment recently said ‘Nigeria’s democracy is a military democracy of sharing and if we continue like this, there is no how we can succeed.’
“The tenets of democracy among others includes consultation and lobbying. “There is no doubt about it, Fulani herdsmen are fellow Nigerians and they have the constitutional right to stay in any part of the country of their choice, but with caveat. “While we commensurate with Benue and Taraba people over recent attack by Fulani herdsmen that left the scores dead, Kogi state has had its own experiences of attacks by these herdsmen marauders.“What this government would have simply done to achieve their covertly or overtly aims and overt blood bath arising from the disagreement between herdsmen and their host communities is to activate negotiation inform of town hall meetings and engaged host communities (farmers) in full discussion on one hand to extract their commitment (consent) after that, they should organize another meeting between community representatives and their visitors (herdsmen) to put facts bare on the table to strike a balance on how to coexist and cohabit peacefully and not by the military fiat government choses to employ.”
The Group maintained :“It is not possible anywhere under the sun for non-indigenes to have equal rights of share and ownership with indigenes. “It is not possible to take people’s land, which is what they rely and depend upon to survive and give to others who migrated from another land in search of greener pasture. “If government could contemplate such bias policy of taking land from owners to give others, to ensure that they thrive well in their personal business, because leaders are of the same extraction with cattle rearers, if this is possible, then it is also for government to declare yam and maize seeds etcetera surplus and distribute free of charge for farmers for them to thrive well in farming, also government should introduce petroleum colony to dispense free fuel to motorists.
“A situation where farmers/communities depends on their lands to earn a living and survive and would be deprived of same by government and hand it over to visitors cannot work and will not work particularly in Kogi state.
“In as much as we need the products of both farmers and herdsmen to live healthy, terms of engagement must be spelt out to ensure peaceful cohabitation, better still the meeting place should be market ground where buying and selling activities will take place .”
The Group noted that “ open grazing has been abolished world over and replaced with close grazing. Situation where herdsmen encroach farmers territories and wreck havoc on planted crops (investment) with impunity and any attempt by the helpless people to resist will lead to massive killings by the armed herdsmen should not be tolerated.
“If the herdsmen who have been terrorizing various communities across the country endlessly with impunity are given back up by government in the name of cattle colony, it will become automatic license to kill the helpless and armless farmers at will (Kill and go) . ”We are seriously appealing to the agents of Fulani hegemony to maintain status quo in the interest of peace and tranquility. Our position on second colonization is NO, NO and capital NO to the black masters.”