Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has accused members of the All Progressive Congress (APC) of taking advantage of the ongoing farmers/herders crisis through media sponsored messages to scare the citizenry and cause trouble.
Obaseki said this while speaking with newsmen at the weekend in Abuja warning that people who had aspired to leadership, should not inflame an already tensed situation.
He said, ”If you will just go through some blogs and some of the narratives and messages sent around online and on social media, you can see a correlation. For instance, the people who are pushing the message that I haven’t given grazing land in Edo, if you see them, they are the same blogs, the same people who were sponsoring opposition messages throughout election, so clearly if you were in my position, what will be your conclusion?”
Speaking further, the Governor said the state was having challenges as bandits and illegal loggers had invaded Edo forests.
His words: “We’ve been having challenges with, not just only bandits in our forests, but illegal loggers. It’s been an invasion of our forests, with armed loggers coming in to indiscriminately cut logs from our forests. I’m sure you would have seen this news about the Okomu National Park, it’s one of the last pristine rain forests we have left and the amount of logging by armed loggers in the last couple of months have been really troubling.
”They are also affecting the wildlife, you know that reserve hosts some very rare species of animals and with this avalanche of loggers, we are losing them and it’s something of concern so I’ve come to rub minds with the Chief of Staff to see how the federal government can assist with the National Parks Guards, with our local guards and see if the military can give them backup.”
On why Edo was reneging on the decision to promote grazing reserves, Obaseki who explained that a state government was not in the business of ranching or of providing grazing lands, however said there were communities that had lands, which have, as at today, accommodated herders under some arrangements.
He said: ”What I suggested was that these communities should look at making lands available when herdsmen come in, they can grow grass and charge them to herd in specific areas and avoid getting the herdsmen to trespass into other people’s farm lands because that is what causes crisis.
”There are separate aspects. First, particularly in the North where a lot of the herdsmen reside and come from, they traditionally have reserves and part of the decision is let us ensure that most herders are now made sedentary, they are now encouraged to move their cattle and graze in reserved lands and not wander with these cattle across the country and that open grazing is no longer viable. That is one decision we arrived at. Also that states should be encouraged to support the setting up of such grazing reserves and that hasn’t changed”.