Lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, has warned the federal government to be clear with its plans to encourage states and others to establish ranches instead of mixing it up with cattle colonies, which many Nigerians have vehemently rejected.
Falana pointed accusing finger at the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, for the mix up, saying that his utterances are exacerbating the on-going herdsmen-farmers' crisis because of his ambivalence on mixing ranches with cattle colonies, which is his own pet project.
Falana noted that that the federal government has been making efforts to resolve the crisis by recommending the establishment of ranches, so Ogbeh should enunciate and push for this instead of talking about cattle colonies.
The foremost lawyer in a statement made available to THISDAY said: "In a determined bid to solve the perennial clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the various parts of the country, the Buhari administration had embarked on a vigorous campaign for the establishment of ranches in the country. Over a year ago, Ogbeh announced that 11 state governments and the federal capital territory administration had made available 55 hectares of land for the establishment of ranches.
"He also announced that the federal government had concluded plans to engage the services of 3,000 young men and women to guard the proposed ranches. But for reasons best known to the federal government, the plan to set up the ranches was jettisoned to the detriment of peace and stability of the nation."
Falana regretted that having lost thousands of people and destruction of properties worth billions of naira in avoidable clashes between farmers and herdsmen in several parts of the country, the federal government has now decided to establish the ranches.
"While this belated decision is a welcome development, Ogbeh should be restrained from causing confusion by giving the misleading impression that the federal government intends to allow owners of cattle to colonise the states that have donated land for the establishment of ranches. In other words, Ogbeh should not be allowed to sabotage the establishment of the ranches with his pet project of "cattle colonies," he said.
Falana added that since a ranch is a large area of land acquired for raising grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for the production of meat the proposed ranches should not be called "cattle colonies."