Taraba gov’t has no di­rec­tion – APC chair

Al­haji Has­san Jika Ardo is the chair­man of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) in Taraba State. In this in­ter­view he granted in Abuja, he said that the PDP-led ad­min­is­tra­tion in the state could in­crease its in­ter­nal rev­enue amidst global re­ces­sion but the

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - By Muideen Olaniyi

There was a re­port that Taraba State is not ready to give out land for graz­ing re­serve. What do you think about this po­si­tion?

I have worked across the length and breadth of Taraba State. In the whole of Nige­ria, Taraba State has the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of cat­tle. There are 4.9m cat­tle in Taraba State. It’s one of the ma­jor sources of rev­enue in the state. In ev­ery facet of life, if you sell a cow, you get rev­enue. If the cow is stand­ing, you get rev­enue. There is what we call cat­tle tax col­lected by the lo­cal gov­ern­ment ev­ery year. On ev­ery cow, a tax from N50 to N100 is paid. The gov­ern­ment of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) in Taraba State came in with­out any plan. The first thing a rea­son­able gov­ern­ment will do, look­ing at the eco­nomic re­ces­sion we are fac­ing across the world, is to im­prove the In­ter­nally Gen­er­ated Rev­enue (IGR). What is the source of IGR? The cat­tle are a source of IGR. You are ad­vo­cat­ing peace. How do you re­store peace be­tween graz­ers and farm­ers? What you should do is to in­tro­duce the cat­tle routes/re­serves which have been avail­able since time im­memo­rial. The graz­ing re­serve has been there, es­pe­cially in Donga Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area. 115 square kilo­me­tres of land was ear­marked as far back as 1965 as graz­ing re­serve. They have a lot of rivers and streams there. They are good for pas­toral­ists. Now the gov­ern­ment is say­ing that it doesn’t have the land, it’s a gov­ern­ment with­out di­rec­tion. Any gov­ern­ment that has a sense of di­rec­tion will not say that. Audu Og­beh is not a Fu­lani man but he is stand­ing firmly be­hind this. Cat­tle con­sti­tute six per cent of the to­tal Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP) of this coun­try. As far back as 1995, cat­tle con­sti­tuted 20 per cent of to­tal agri­cul­tural GDP in Nige­ria and some­body is telling you he doesn’t need graz­ing re­serve. Yet, he wants to re­store peace. How do you re­store peace when the cat­tle routes have been blocked? How do you re­store peace when the graz­ing re­serve has been taken over by some peo­ple? You shouldn’t for­get that white men from abroad came in to ear­mark these graz­ing re­serves. There are a lot of his­tor­i­cal records. Check the bud­get of Taraba State, no sin­gle dime has been al­lo­cated for vet­eri­nary drugs and live­stock. What type of gov­ern­ment is that? It’s a gov­ern­ment with­out fo­cus. Can we con­tinue to de­pend on oil money? What we need to do is to boost the best source of rev­enue that we have. The best source of rev­enue that we have is cat­tle. Then, you need to ed­u­cate the no­mads. Even to­day, in Taraba, it is not only the Fu­lani who are graz­ers. All the tribes have im­bibed the cul­ture be­cause it’s one area you can in­vest com­fort­ably.

The gov­er­nors in the South say graz­ing re­serve will make them lose their land to non­indi­genes. How do you think the is­sue can be man­aged?

If you are talk­ing about in­di­genes, are you say­ing that Fu­la­nis are not in­di­genes? Who are the right own­ers of the land? Are you say­ing that the Fu­lani and cat­tle breed­ers are not in­di­genes? Many peo­ple are just jump­ing into con­clu­sion on this is­sue when they don’t have facts and fig­ures about the his­tory of this coun­try. In 1948, be­fore the pre-colo­nial era, what was the pop­u­la­tion of the Fu­lani cat­tle graz­ers and farm­ers? What was the con­tri­bu­tion of the farm­ers and the graz­ers? When we talk of agri­cul­ture, we are not just talk­ing about farm pro­duce alone. We are also talk­ing about cat­tle and any other live­stock.

How will you de­scribe the state of the na­tion un­der Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari?

I know that peo­ple are wor­ried, wait­ing for mir­a­cle to hap­pen. But, let’s not de­ceive our­selves. This coun­try has been bas­tardised over the past 16 years. You can even stretch back to the mil­i­tary era. Pres­i­dent Buhari is not an an­gel. He is a hu­man be­ing, like any­one of us. We need to change our own at­ti­tude for this coun­try to change. Buhari, alone, can­not change this coun­try. I don’t think we are help­ful to our­selves. It took us time be­fore we got our in­de­pen­dence. The amal­ga­ma­tion took place in 1914. But we got in­de­pen­dence in 1960. The PDP-led gov­ern­ment has ru­ined this coun­try.

Can we still trust Buhari amid chal­lenges con­fronting Nige­ri­ans?

Se­cu­rity is para­mount and we are very com­fort­able with his stride in terms of se­cu­rity. If you are a farmer, grazer, busi­ness­man, with­out ad­e­quate se­cu­rity, you can’t do your work and Buhari is tak­ing best mea­sures on is­sues of se­cu­rity. His lieu­tenants are do­ing their best, too.

Has­san Jika Ardo

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