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Ortom calls on N’Assembly to scrap Grazing Reserve Bill

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Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has urged members of the National Assembly to reject the Grazing Reserve Council Bill before them.

In a statement, yesterday, through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Terver Akase, in Makurdi, the governor said that he found it curious that since 2016, the Presidency had been sending the Grazing Reserve Bill to the National Assembly in different hues, and pushing for its passage despite public outcry.

Ortom said if the Muhammadu Buhari administration had concentrated on tackling insecurity in the manner it pushed for the enactment of a cattle grazing reserves law, the country would have been safer.

The outgoing governor, who lost his aspiration to be a senator in the 10th National Assembly, accused the Buhari administration of trying to smuggle the policy in through any possible means since 2016.

According to Ortom, the bill first came in 2016 as Grazing Management Agency, which was to ensure the creation of cattle grazing areas across the country.

He added: “In 2017, the Federal Government again tried to influence the passage of a bill adorning the same regalia, which was called National Grazing Routes and Reserves Bill. The government subsequently introduced the National Water Resources Bill, which also came with a singular objective of bringing all water sources (surface and underground) and river banks under the control of the Federal Government.”

The Federal Government introduced Ruga, Cattle Colonies and several other programmes, all aimed at creating settlements for pastoralists in all the states of the federation.

“In August 2021, Buhari approved recommendations of a committee to review ‘with dispatch, 368 grazing sites across 25 states in the country, and to determine the levels of encroachment.’ Again, Benue and other states rejected the presidential approval and the idea eventually lost steam.”

Governor Ortom noted that the same bill had been rechristened the National Grazing Reserves Council Bill and presented to the National Assembly for passage.

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