FG votes N940m for grazing reserves despite opposition

A-herdsman-with-his-cattle-in-EnuguThe Federal Government has set aside N940m to be spent on grazing reserves across the country despite growing opposition to its establishment.

There have been reports that the government is considering the establishment of grazing reserves across the country as a way of ending Fulani herdsmen attacks on farmers and residents of their host communities.

The proposal has, however, met stiff resistance from individuals and some state governments especially in the southern part of the country, who believed that the creation of grazing reserves would give the rampaging herdsmen the opportunity to increase their attacks.

The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Archbishop Adewale Martins; and a former General Secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Archbishop Joseph Sunday, are among those who have opposed the proposal to establish grazing reserves across the nation.

They said instead of establishing grazing reserves, the Federal Government should build cattle ranches in states where cattle rearing is the major occupation.

Also, Oyo and Ekiti states have made public their opposition to the creation of grazing routes, with both states saying they had no land for the routes in their states.

In a similar vein, the grazing reserve bill is still being debated in the Senate and House of Representatives.

Some stakeholders, except the Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body for the cattle rearers in the country, have advocated the creation of cattle ranches to curb the movement of herdsmen and stop the attendant destruction of crops and the loss of lives.

According to the details of the 2016 Budget, made public by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo-Idoma, on Thursday, however, the development of strategic grazing reserves is one of government’s priority projects for the year under agriculture.

This is an indication that the Federal Government may have decided to go ahead with its plan despite the opposition.

According to the budget details, the government will spend N940m on the project in 2016.

The document is, however, silent on the number of such grazing reserves that would be developed and where they would be located.

It said the project, among others, was in pursuit of the nation’s goal of self-sufficiency and food security.

It also noted that N1.3bn would be spent on supports for 187,500 farmers; another N1.3bn would be spent on rural roads; N939.7m for extension services; and N940m for price stabilisation/buy-back/price guarantee scheme.

Meanwhile, despite considering concession options for Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port-Harcourt airports, the government has planned to spend over N2bn on the airports in 2016.

The Federal Government has budgeted N1.06bn for Airside Rehabilitation of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, despite that concession option is being considered for it.

Also, the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano; the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos; and the Port Harcourt International Airport, which are also part of the concession arrangement, will also benefit from the N865m budgeted for the procurement and installation of Airfield Lightening System for seven airports across the country.

The airports in Kano and Port Harcourt will also benefit from the N432.5m earmarked for procurement and illumination of Thales Navigational Aids in five airports.

Meanwhile, the Presidency on Sunday said the various social safety nets, for which N500bn was allocated in the 2016 budget, recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, were capable of assuaging the pains arising from the new fuel pricing regime.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, said this in a statement he made available to journalists in Abuja.

Akande said over eight million only, out of over 140 million Nigerians, would benefit from the programmes this year.

He, however, said the figure of the beneficiaries was apart from the jobs that would be created by the infrastructural projects that would be restored and the new ones that would soon take off.

“Long before now, the Presidency has made adequate arrangements in the 2016 budget to ensure that Nigerians are lifted from poverty and hardship,” he said.

For the umpteenth time, Akande gave details of the interventions and palliatives, some of which he said would be starting in a matter of weeks.

These include the payment of N5,000 monthly to one million extremely poor Nigerians for 12 months for which N68.7bn has been budgeted for; soft loan for 1.76 million traders and artisans, for which N140.3bn has been earmarked, and payment of between N23,000 to N30,000 per month to 500,000 unemployed graduates, who would be trained, paid and deployed to work as volunteer teachers, public health officers and extension service workers among other responsibilities.

He added that the youth would be given electronic devices to empower them technologically for their assignments.

The VP’s media aide stated that 100,000 artisans would also be trained and paid from N191.5bn that had been set aside for this in the budget.

Akande stated that at least 5.5 million Nigerian primary school children, starting first in 18 states – three per geopolitical zones – would be fed for 200 school days under the free Home-grown School Feeding Programme, for which N93.1bn had been appropriated.

Punch

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