We are strongly against a Cattle Grazing Reserve in Cross River State

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His Excellency, Senator Ben Ayade
Governor of Cross River State
Office of the Governor
Calabar, Cross River State

Your Excellency,

In the last few months, there has been a concerted effort by the Federal Government, certain federal legislators and some other interest groups in Nigeria to establish cattle colonies or grazing reserves across all states in Nigeria.

The National Grazing Reserve (Establishment) Bill 2016 is one of such proposals which has been brought to the floor of the National Assembly in this regard. Several other bills have been presented at the National Assembly with objectives that are for the most part consistent with those of the National Grazing Reserve (Establishment) Bill 2016. These objectives are:

1.     To establish an all-powerful federal government commission to acquire land from all states for cattle grazing reserves and to oversee the management of these reserves in a manner that benefits those engaged in the business of cattle rearing.

2.     To ensure that access into the grazing reserves is restricted to only those authorized by the commission and no one else.

3.     To establish and maintain infrastructure and social amenities such as primary and secondary schools, hospitals etc within the grazing reserves for the sole benefit of those authorized to reside within the grazing reserves.

4.     To (where the commission deems fit), allow non-Nigerians to enter into the reserves to carry out grazing activities.

5.     To (where the commission deems fit), close existing rights of way and watercourses for the benefit of those engaged in cattle rearing.

The above objectives serve primarily the interests of those who are engaged in the business of rearing cattle. You will agree with me that none of the people groups of Cross River State have either a historic or cultural predisposition to rearing cattle. The implication then of having a grazing reserve as proposed in Cross River State is that we will be giving away our valuable land for the primary benefit of non-Cross Riverians.

Also, a situation in which a community with infrastructure and social amenities will be located within the borders of Cross River State, yet Cross Riverians will need permission to enter into it is completely unacceptable. Such a situation will be akin to what took place during the era of Apartheid in South Africa where indigenous South Africans required pass books to move around freely in their own country.

It is also evident that allowing non-Nigerian cattle rearers access to a grazing reserve in Cross River State will have serious security implications for our state.

Finally, our fertile land mass in Cross River State is arguably our greatest asset. It is therefore pertinent that we hold on to this asset and ensure that it is put to use in a manner that primarily benefits Cross Riverians.

We therefore call on Your Excellency to soundly reject every overture from the Federal Government and all interest groups aimed at establishing a grazing reserve in Cross River State.

Yours faithfully,

 

Iso Bassey



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