Buhari clarifies stance on Benue’s anti-grazing law
•Mulls stakeholders’ conference on economic diversification
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday explained why the Federal Government never challenged anti-open grazing bill signed into law by the Benue State government.
According to a statement in Abuja by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, government is to hold a stakeholders’ conference on infrastructural and agricultural development.
He noted that the President wanted to give the state government an opportunity to halt the senseless killings.
He added that the move was to proffer short and long-term solutions to the frequent clashes between farmers and cattle rearers in parts of the country.
The conference, according to Shehu, is drawing up a 20-30 year development plan that takes cognisance of environmental impact.
Buhari, the statement said, had been concerned about these conflicts.
The statement reads: “He is equally worried about some public pronouncements and finger-pointing that are, in most cases, very unhelpful to peaceful coexistence of our people.
“The President is conscious of his duty to Nigerians, not the least because he is accountable to everything that goes wrong. He deeply sympathises with the families and all the other direct and indirect victims of this violence. He is determined to bring it to a permanent end.
“While there are many Nigerians who see the conflict between the nomadic herdsmen and peasant farmers as an ethnic problem, others point to religious differences and agenda. The President does not subscribe to such simplistic reductionism.
“President Buhari holds the view, as do many experts, that these conflicts are more often than not, as a result of major demographic changes in Nigeria.
“When Nigeria attained independence, the population of the country was estimated at about 63,000,000. Today the population is estimated at close to 200,000,000; while the land size has not changed and will not change. Urban sprawl and development have simply reduced land area for both peasant farming and cattle grazing.
“It is therefore both unfair and unkind for anyone to keep insinuating that the President is condoning the spate of killings in Benue and neighboring states.
“The President has publicly condemned the violence at every turn. He is prepared to permit every possible step that can lead to the stoppage of the killings. It is on account of this that he brushed aside an opinion that the Federal Government should challenge the constitutionality of the anti-open grazing bill in Benue State.
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