Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has advised the Federal Government against the planned establishment of cattle colonies across the country, describing the move as tantamount to modern slavery.
The governor made his position known on the raging matter during a visit by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, who led some prominent traditional rulers to the Government House, Ibadan, on Thursday.
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, who shared similar sentiments with the governor on the matter, also said that the idea was ill-advised and unacceptable to the people of Oyo kingdom.
The governor advocated true federalism as solution to the national question, stressing that the proposal to states to make land available for the establishment of cattle colonies was against the letters and spirit of true federalism that vested ownership and control of land on states.
According to him, the proposed cattle colony was disguised slavery similar to the long-forgotten colonization that Africa still rues till date.
Instead, the governor said that the state was prepared for a controlled ranching that would be established by the state government, which would have all the required modern facilities for good cattle breeding and ancillary services.
This, he said, would be at minimal cost to whoever wishes to make use of the facility, but would end the regime of open grazing.
Ajimobi said, “Cattle colony is tantamount to modern slavery, because colony is synonymous with colonization. We cannot have that in Oyo State. It is a pointer to the fact that federalism is not working in Nigeria.
“If poultry farmers or owners of piggeries, among others, are not being offered colonies for their own livestock, why should herdsmen be a survival category.
“Our position is to support controlled ranching, under which we will provide land and other basic modern facilities for good cattle business as well as breeding. Those wishing to rear cattle will use the facilities at moderate cost. No more, no less.”
“You will say that the governor is the Chief Security Officer of his state, but he has no control over the police. That is another problem we have with our type of federalism. Another example is about those digging for treasures in our communities but collect licenses from the Federal Government.
“This is wrong. Nigeria needs true federalism. We will keep talking about it until it materializes.”
The governor said that colonies were not established for cattle or any livestock in South Africa and other emerging economies, insisting that the state would also not allow such.
He empathized with those he called notable Nigerians that had farms in the state, whom he said had been complaining to him about herdsmen destroying their farms, expressing confidence that solution was in sight now that the menace had become pervading.
Ajimobi said that he was happy that Oyo State was on the committee recently put together by the FG to find solutions to the incessant farmers-herdsmen clashes, expressing optimism that the associated problems would soon be resolved in the mutual interest of all stakeholders.
Earlier, Oba Adeyemi, who said he was speaking the minds of other traditional rulers that were in company with him, applauded the state government for its stand on land acquisition for farming and livestock purposes.
At a broad level, he said that the committee of Obas in the state was in support of the stance taken by the state government on the proposed cattle colony, stressing that all land belonged to the state government.
The foremost monarch said, “We appreciate the governor for his forthrightness on this issue and for standing for the rights of the downtrodden, especially the people of his state. The FG does not own land; it belongs to the State.
“So, if truly we are practicing federalism, the federal government should not be collecting value added tax on businesses in Ibadan while the state struggles to provide facilities for the same businesses.
“Our own people are not cattle rustlers. Therefore, we can vehemently say now that we stand against cattle colony. We support our governor on his stand on ranching and against colony.”
The Alaafin used the opportunity to advise the governor to ensure that his successor was someone with sterling qualities and vision to sustain the legacy he would bequeath on the state, having, according to him, done so much that must be leveraged upon to further develop the state.
On his entourage were the Iba of Kishi, Oba Aweda Lawal; Sabiganna of Iganna, Oba Saliu Oyemonlaa, Ona-Onibode, Oba Rasheed Anikulapo; and Olokaka of Okaka, Oba Abdulazeez Olatunji.