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The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has condemned the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for his plan to establish integrated farm estates in the 108 senatorial districts of the country.
The group was reacting to the directive by the President to the National Agricultural Land Development Authority to set up the integrated farm estates nationwide.
In a statement by the Secretary General of the group, Mr Sola Ebiseni, on Wednesday, Afenifere described the planned programme of the Federal Government as another “veiled strategy of acquiring land in furtherance of the settlement of herdsmen across Nigeria.”
According to him, the integrated farm estates are designed to accommodate all forms of agricultural practices, including animal husbandry, which will effectively earmark a portion of the acquired vast land “as effective grazing reserves without saying so.”
He said, “Nigerians are in no way deceived that the urgency purportedly attached to the programme by President Buhari is of equal proportional zeal with the creation of settled villages for Fulani herdsmen, from everywhere and nowhere, on the ancestral lands of other nationalities, which in the fullness of time will become colonies of tyranny as they are in Southern Kaduna, on the Plateau and many other parts of the Middle Belt.
“The cry across the land is that our President should rise to his primary responsibility of ensuring security of life and property, especially for the farmers, that they may feed the nation. If we may ask, will the Federal Government also build military barracks stronger than the Nigerian Defence Academy in those farm estates?
“President Buhari needs also be reminded that none of his predecessors, who showed greater interests in agriculture, was this covetous of land and seeking to work over and above the federating states; not even the military government of Obasanjo in its Operation Feed the Nation, nor Shehu Shagari’s Green Revolution.
“Rather than seeking land by force, which it has no powers over by the constitution and the Land Use Act, and imposing the type of agricultural practices on the states, let the Federal Government provide resources and incentives to the states in their areas of comparative advantage. Thus, in their choice of agricultural endeavours, the Niger Delta states may choose aquaculture, while the North-West sticks to animal husbandry. The President has not denied that his government has disbursed more than N6bn to his Katsina home state for ranching without breathing over them for specific land.
“Apart from the Federal Government having no powers over land, it cannot not also compel the states to acquire the ancestral land of other people for the personal use of others. Constitutionally though, agriculture is under the concurrent legislative list; the powers of the Federal Government thereon under item ‘H’ of the Constitution, paragraphs 17-20, are limited and not extended to any activities giving it powers over land in view of the Land Use Act, which has equal constitutional status.”
The group called on the people to reject the planned programme of the Federal Government, which it described as a Greek gift.
“For the states in the South-West, including Edo and Delta, this government has nothing to teach us in farm estates. Let Buhari chase the killer terrorists from our land that the people may prosper. We are sceptical of these Greek gifts.”