Simon Lalong, has kicked against the implementation of anti-grazing law, saying that he had warned his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom over the law at the center of the current crisis in the state.
Benue state had recently witnessed a spate of killings perpetrated by suspected Fulani herdsmen who are thought to be resisting the implementation of the state’s anti-grazing law.
Speaking to State House corespondents in Abuja after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, Lalong said he had also resisted pressure to enact the law In Plateau and rather chose to embrace the idea of cattle ranching.
He said anti-grazing law was divisive as it was targeted at a particular ethnic group.
Lalong observed: “To be honest with you, I told the governor of Benue when he was doing the law. I said look, why don’t you thread softly, just be careful, take other steps before you start implementation.
“But you see states are different, his own concepts are different and for us on the Plateau is different.
“I said I will not do the law before implementation. I have not developed the ranching areas, so I cannot go and say I put a law. To stop who? If I stop the people, what is the alternative?
“So, I said do consultations, allow the people to understand and buy into the concepts.”
While asserting that states were now accepting the ranching initiative as a way out of the incessant herdsmen and farmers clashes, Lalong was of the view that it would require the intervention of the federal government by way of policy and subsidy to work.
The governor further stated: “Ranching as a concept is a policy and there are states realizing the importance of the policy.
“I cannot wake up like some people said last year that I should go and do anti-grazing Law. And I asked anti-grazing law for what?
“We are talking about ranching, we are talking about development of livestock business and I cannot use the word anti to start driving people who are interested.
“It is for those who are interested to come and get involve in it.
“Secondly, I can’t implement anti-grazing law. There are levels of implementation which will require government intervention, provision of ranchers and thirdly, when you are talking of ranching it is a component of agriculture business you will also require subsidy.
“Subsidy must come from federal and state governments and by the time we develop it and put every structure on ground, then we can bring laws to regulate the implementation.
“So, I don’t want to jump one step before the other.”
As it concerns Plateau state in particular, he said his administration had already set aside huge areas of land for ranching and to accommodate all interests.
Lalong stressed: “In Plateau state, I did that because when I came I inherited a protracted crisis in the state and so my first priority was how to handle these crisis and ensure we have peace in Plateau State.
“Within three months, we were able to achieve peace in Plateau State.
“Most of the lingering crisis were between farmers and herdsmen in Plateau but today in most parts of the state, you will see beautiful relationship between herdsmen and farmers.
“At the end of last year, something smal happened but I’m not saying it was between herdsmen and farmers, it was as a resulting criminal activities and so we focused on fishing out those criminals.
“Most of the crisis that happened was not on the farms, it was just pockets of people, Christians and Muslims, killing one another and so we addressed those issues, we are handling it.
“Let me also say that plateau was one of those that embraced ranching. I had a lot of opposition initially when I said Plateau was keying into ranching.
“Some states said they don’t have land but I said whether I have land or not, we have to provide land for ranching because that I see as solution to the conflicts.
“In Plateau, we have gone far, we have donated land voluntarily, many people donated land for ranching.”
The governor said he was at the presidential villa to brief the president on the security situation in Plateau State.