By Chesa Chesa
The National Economic Council (NEC) on Thursday declared that foreign pastoralists would not be allowed to participate in the National Livestock Transformation Plan, for which the Federal Government has earmarked N100 billion.
This is counter to the position taken by Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, who had while expressing support for the initiative recently, argued that Fulani herdsmen from outside the country remain relatives of their Nigerian counterparts and deserve to benefit from the programme.
However, briefing newsmen in Abuja after the NEC meeting chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, the chairman of the Council’s adhoc committee on Food Security, Herdmen/Farmers Conflict, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, said no such inclusion of foreigners would be allowed in the programme, for which the Federal Government is contributing 80% of the funding.
”Our budget did not include non-Nigerians and so, I am not aware if the governor said so and It’s possible you did not hear the governor very well, but there is no way we can make our programme which the Federal Government will put eighty percent and the States will put twenty percent and then we are now going to accommodate non-Nigerians. It’s not part of the programme.
”And of course, what we have said here is that they would have to review our ECOWAS protocol and see what we can do about that.
”Of fact, we commend the Federal Government for any reason they closed the borders, and this is the kind of thing we are looking for. While we are trying to reposition this programme, there will be temporary restrain for such. NEC did not make any budget to accommodate non-Nigerians. This is very important”, Umahi stated.
The governor also stressed that the livestock plan remained voluntary, and that and State Government that subscribes to it will be at liberty to choose the type of livestock it would develop.
“The National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) is a creation of NEC and state governors and of course, Minister of Agriculture is also a member of this committee and Minister of Interior is also a member, and it is entirely distinct from Ruga”, he pointed out.
He noted that seven States – Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Adamawa, Plateau, Nasarawa and Zamfara have been listed as frontline states for the Plan, following the incessant farmers and herdsmen clashes there.
“Federal government will contribute 80% of the N100b proposed investments” said the governor, who also disclosed that the Plan, with regard to funding and effective take-off would be reviewed in October when the NEC meets again.
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who also spoke on pipeline vandalism and oil theft in the Niger Delta region, as discussed at the NEC session, said his committee has proposed the setting up of Special Courts to try criminals involved in oil theft and vandalization of oil pipes.
According to him, “the 13 member adhoc committee has recommended the restructuring of ownership of oil pipelines, prosecution of oil thieves, creation of Special Courts for prosecuting the thieves, amongst others, as part of plans to end the menace”.
The recommendations which he said will be forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari, also include the development of affected communities, provision of employment opportunities in the regions, as well as giving other benefits to communities to enable them take ownership of the oil pipelines.