Zara Nwachinemere, Abakaliki
Ebonyi state governor, David Nweze Umahi, has restated his initial stand of not collecting N6bn for federal government to establish grazing reserves in Ebonyi State.
Umahi, during the All Progressives Congress (APC), stakeholders meeting at the Christian Ecumenical Center Abakaliki, maintained that the state had not collected any money from federal government for ranching and would not collect any money to that effect.
On Wednesday, during the Channels TV prime time political show – POLITICS TODAY, the Spokesperson to the Presidency – Mallam Garba Shehu, disclosed that 3 States and the FCT received the sum of N24Billion for the purposes of establishing cattle ranches.
He mentioned Ebonyi State as the only southern state to have received N6 Billion shared to the 4 states.
Although, the governor had earlier denied receiving N6bn from federal government for ranching through his Special Assistant on Media.
At the APC’s stakeholders meeting, Umahi stated that N5.9bn was approved not to the state but to the Mineral Development fund, a parastatal of the federal government, for the development of limestone in Ndiokpoto in Ishielu local government of Ebonyi state.
He said the money had nothing to do with ranching and that Prince Agomeze is a member of that board, adding that the board was following due process to start the project.
“There was a statement that Ebonyi state was among the states that were given N6m for ranching, there was nothing like that. I’m the NEC Technical committed chairman on the Conflict Resolution between farmers and herders, and we had our report submitted and it was very obvious that what we came up with is what we call livestock transformation plan and that’s what was approved by NEC.
“And what it means is that all types of livestock are brought together, be it cows, be it goat, be it poultry, fishery and what NEC approved was that any state that is willing for any particular type of livestock, should indicate. Ebonyi state has not indicated even for poultry.
“What probably a mistake that Garba Shehu, would have made was drawn down from the common purse of the federation account, on the natural resource fund which by the magnanimity of Mr. President, when he approved about N5.9b not to Ebonyi State, but to the Mineral Development fund, a parastatal of the federal government, for the development of limestone in Ndiokpoto in Ishielu local government.
“The money has been released to the Solid Mineral Development fund of which prince Agomeze is a member of that board. They are following their due process to start the project. It didn’t come to Ebonyi State government, there was no N6bn anywhere and that fund has nothing to do with ranching, it’s one of the programmes of Mr. President on Agriculture sustainability through a none fertilizer which we were the first State in Nigeria to benefit.
“Mr. President in the same memo approved the sum of N4million for empirical evaluation of our salt deposit in Ebonyi, with the intention to establish mega plant based on the result. Ben Okah is aware of this, Commissioner for Trade and Investment should know about it and ministry of Solid Mineral, they are all members of the committee that interface with the federal government on this matter.
“So there was nothing like ranching, we have no land for ranching we made it very clear, if any of you wants to do ranching, he has to it in his house without the knowledge of the state government.
“Ebonyi State has not approved any ranching, we have not gotten any money, we will not get money, we will not do ranching. It is important as a leader let your yes be your yes and your no be your no.