Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has said that the proposed creation of grazing zones across the country is ill-advised, warning that the proposal is against the spirit of the land use act and the overriding public interest.
The governor bared his mind on the raging controversy trailing the alleged sponsorship of a bill at the National Assembly for the creation of grazing zones for cattle across the country as a panacea to the perennial clash between trespassing herdsmen and farm owners.
Ajimobi spoke during the launch of the ‘AgricOyo,’ the Oyo State agriculture initiative, held at Paago, via Iseyin, in Oke Ogun zone of the state, on Tuesday.
At the event were investors, outgrowers, beneficiaries, institutional partners, outtakers, traditional rulers, and top officials of the state.
The governor said: “This is the time to call a spade a spade. Those clamouring for creation of grazing zones across the country should have a rethink. It is against the Land Use Act; it is against the law of natural justice to seize people’s land to cater for someone’s cattles.
“Grazing zones could be created for those who are traditional cattle rearers in their areas. I’m not against that. But, you cannot come here and tell me you want to occupy our land for grazing zones. The land exists in our respective states and as such the rigthtful owners should decide what to do with them.
“Anybody outside this zone willing to rear cattle here will need to approach the state to buy the land and we offer what is available with rules. There is no free land for grazing zones. We need to take this firm position. It won’t happen.”
On the new agriculture initiative, the governor was upbeat that it would create one million direct jobs across the agric value chain thereby taking many unemployed youths off the streets.
Ajimobi was upbeat that the state would become the food basket of the Southern part of the country in the short run when the programme commenced in full swing, with the ultimate ambition of feeding the country.
The governor, who said that the initiative was aimed at diversifying the economy of the state, assured the people that the programme would add value to the lives of citizens of the state across different sectors.
He said, “I am elated that the agricultural initiative has attracted these important dignitaries in the Agric business world and as well as a vast majority of our youths as beneficiaries of the scheme.
“This project will reduce over-dependence on oil, create wealth, alleviate poverty, encourage productivity, create jobs and bring about the overall socio-economic uplift of Oyo State.”
“Farming is very profitable and we will do everything possible to make it attractive in Oyo State to diversify our economy.”
He said the phase one of the project would focus on the production of maize, cassava, rice, poultry, soya beans and aquaculture.
Speaking on the anxiety of farmers over security of their lives and their farmlands in the face of the menace of the marauding herdsmen, the governor charged the farmers and the entire rural dwellers to be more vigilant and report suspicious activities of offending cattle rearers to security agencies around them.
He warned that it was illegal for the herdsmen to destroy farmlands and attacks farmers in the guise of feeding their animals.
While welcoming the Governor and his entourage, the Caretaker Chairman of Iseyin Local Government, Alhaji Saheed Alaran said that agricultural has always proven to be a major aspect of the social and occupational lives of the people.
He said: “This programme will benefit the state immensely through the provision of food and employment to our teeming youths through the synergy between the state and the local government administrations.”
In her opening remarks, the Chairperson of the State Agricultural Initiative Committee, Mrs. Tolu Shadipe, lauded the efforts of the state government in ensuring that the vision became a reality, a development she said would take agriculture back to its pride of place for the economic benefit of the people of the State.
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi and the Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Abdul-Ganiyu Adekunle Salawudeen, in their separate remarks, commended Ajimobi for the initiative, which they said was unprecedented since the days of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.