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Buhari’s ex-aide, Onochie, being mischievous with RUGA comment —Benue govt



The Benue State government has slammed a media report credited to the former Presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie, concerning the stance of Governor Samuel Ortom on the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), describing it as false and mischievous.

In a statement on Thursday signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, Ortom noted that he had rejected all manner of coinage from the Federal Government to grab land from Benue, and has not changed his position.

It would be recalled that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture and coordinator of the NLTP, Andrew Kwasari, had said that 22 states, including Benue had expressed interest in the project.

Following Kwasari’s statement, Onochie was quoted to have painted a picture of Ortom supporting RUGA, and mocked the governor for applying for funds from the Federal Government to establish ranches.

But Ortom in the statement said he had objected to RUGA to prevent the Federal Government from grabbing Benue land.

The statement read, “We read insinuations in the media where former Presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie tried to give a false narrative about the stand of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP.

“Onochie made spurious allegations, painting the picture that Governor Ortom supports RUGA because the State Government was listed as one of the states that applied for funds from the Federal Government to establish Ranches.

“It is on record that Governor Ortom has rejected all manner of coinage from the Federal Government in a bid to grab land from Benue State.

“When the Federal Government toyed with so many ideas, ranging from Open Grazing, Grazing Reserves, Grazing Routes, Cattle Colony, RUGA and lastly Farm Centres in the 109 Senatorial Districts across the country in a very suspicious manner, Governor Ortom rose and opposed it. He rejected any of such policies being imposed on Benue. He has not shifted from that position.

“The Benue State Government only accepted to key into the National Livestock Transformation Program (NLTP) because the National Economic Council (NEC), which has the 36 state governors as members, approved the National Livestock Transformation Plan which after series of engagement incorporated suggestions by stakeholders from the State.”

He noted that the NLTP provides that States are at liberty to adopt and implement aspects of the plan that suit its peculiarities.

Read also: Nigerian govt denies Afenifere’s claim of subtle RUGA agenda

Furthermore, the statement read, “For us in Benue State, our peculiarities are that we have a ranching law and in the area of Livestock farming, our competitive advantages include indigenous cattle, piggery, goats and fisheries etc. All these have been captured in the Plan and Benue State has accepted the implementation of the Plan based on these conditions.

“Benue State has continued to reject the establishment of Cattle Colonies, Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlements and Grazing Reserves or any other form of coinage previously proposed by the Federal Government allegedly to curb farmers-herders clashes across the country because it had every tendency of subterranean plots to undermine the safety and lives of the indigenous people of the State.

“However, it is clear to us that Onochie is not ready to amend her ways, which is why the Senate roundly rejected her nomination as a Federal INEC Commissioner. It is therefore mischievous for Onochie to drag Governor Ortom into an argument she lacks knowledge about.

“She should not use Governor Ortom to warm her way back into the consciousness of the President for patronage. If Onochie has any modicum of decency remaining in her tainted pedigree, she should rather commend Governor Ortom for insisting on ranching as the win-win solution to herdsmen attacks on farming communities which has now been embraced by others States and the Federal Government.”

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