A former Plateau governor, Jonah Jang, says his constituents are opposed to the creation of cattle colonies as proposed by his successor, Simon Lalong.
Mr. Jang, who represents Plateau North in the Senate, said in Jos on Friday that he had met with his constituents to gauge their feelings on the proposal.
“My people are against cattle colonies; they have said that they would not relinquish their ancestral lands for the purpose of grazing reserves or colonies,” Mr. Jang said in a statement signed by his media consultant, Clinton Garuba.
Mr. Lalong had told State House correspondents in Abuja on Thursday that he would introduce cattle colonies instead of enacting a law to ban open cattle grazing in Plateau.
The colonies, Mr. Lalong argued, would check the clashes between herdsmen and farmers as the cattle would be restricted to particular areas which would reduce the chances of straying into farmlands.
But Mr. Jang, who lamented the attacks by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen over the years, said that victims of such attacks were “not ready to accept the confiscation of their land by government”.
“Cattle colonies are detrimental to the people and will not be accepted. The Plateau government is aware of this,” the ex-governor, now senator, declared.
According to him, Mr. Lalong was speaking for himself when he promised to establish the cattle colonies.
“As far as the people of my senatorial zone are concerned, Mr. Lalong spoke for himself and not for us.
“We have already suffered too much loss in the hands of attackers believed to be herdsmen; creating colonies for them will only worsen the situation,” he said.
He dismissed claims by the governor that people were already donating lands for the purpose of grazing and cattle colonies.
“If the governor claims that people are already donating lands for the purpose of grazing reserves or cattle colonies, let him name the donors.
“The Plateau people are peaceful and have always rejected any policy that could undermine that peace.
“My constituents’ position is clear – Lalong is on his own and alone in this path that he has chosen,” Jang said.
Mr. Jang, however, advised Mr. Lalong to apologise to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue over a statement credited to him (Lalong) in which he claimed to have warned his Benue counterpart against the anti-open grazing law.
“That statement was particularly unfair to the people of Benue, coming at a time they were mourning scores killed in the Jan. 1 attacks on villages in Guma and Logo Governments.
“The statement suggests that the killings took place because of the law. This cannot be true because the killings have been on for years while the law only took effect on Nov. 1,” the statement said.
Jang urged the federal and state governments to organise a meeting of stakeholders to seek a lasting solution to the incessant herdsmen/farmers clashes. He stressed the need for policies that would be fair and acceptable to all concerned.