By: BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
The Oke Ogun Council of Elders (OCE) on Monday rejected the plan by the Federal Government to establish cattle ranches in Oyo state particularly in Oke Ogun area of the state.
Specifically, the Oke Ogun Elders in a statement made available to newsmen in Ibadan signed by its spokesman, Comrade Jare Ajayi, declared “in any case both the federal and Oyo State governments should know that there is no land of any size in Oke Ogun for the kind of ranches being proposed. We cannot allow ourselves to be run over”.
OCE in the statement asked the Federal government to ” have a change of mind on its recent decision to create cattle ranches in the country, saying, “the people of Oke Ogun in Oyo State reject it in all its ramifications”.
According to the Oke Ogun Elders, considering “the discord and possible bloodshed that such a proposition is likely to cause, the government ought not to contemplate it at all.” adding that it was unfortunate that “Oyo State is among ten states where the pilot ranches will begin.” and that the Oyo State government should “reject the idea completely!”
“This is in sharp contrast to the promise made by Governor Abiola Ajimobi on April 26, 2016 while speaking during the launch of the ‘AgricOyo,’ the state’s agriculture initiative held at Paago, Iseyin, in Oke Ogun zone of the state.” it said.
OCE in the statement frowned at a statement purportedly credited to the Oyo state Commisioner for Agriculture Prince Oyewumi ” that the ranch that will come to Oyo State will be located in the northern part of the state, meaning Oke Ogun”.
Expressing surprise that the federal government admitted the loss of lives and as much as about $14 billion (₦5.04 trillion) annually to herdsmen/farmers-related conflicts”, ,the Oke Ogun Elders said it was disturbing that the Federal government “could still go ahead to think of this obnoxious project rather than finding a lasting solution to the problem”.
OCE pointed out that the ” lasting solution advocated is to ban open grazing of livestock and to encourage livestock farmers to embrace modern ways of rearing animals which is ranching.” ,adding, ,”but this has to be by private arrangement and not something that would be created for livestock farmers by the government”.
The Oke Ogun Council of Elders declared that the planned establishment of the ranching “will create far greater problems than it will solve”, adding that it wants to
remind Governor Abiola Ajimobi of his position on the issue on April 26, 2016 while speaking during the launch of the ‘AgricOyo,’ the state’s agriculture initiative which was held at Paago, Iseyin, in Oke Ogun zone of the state during which he said, “this is the time to call a spade a spade. Those clamouring for creation of grazing zones across the country should have a rethink. It is against the Land Use Act; it is against the law of natural justice to seize people’s land to cater for someone’s cattles.”.
Governor Ajimobi was also quoted as saying, “grazing zones could be created for those who are traditional cattle rearers in their areas. I’m not against that. But, you cannot come here and tell me you want to occupy our land for grazing zones. The land exists in our respective states and as such the rightful owners should decide what to do with them.”
Oke ogun Council of Elders (OCE) asked the governor to stand by this position, saying, “what has changed between 2016 when this statement was made and now? If anything, there are more cogent reasons now not to accommodate the kind of grazing zones or ranches being proposed by the federal government” the release averred.