The Nation (Nigeria)

Row over Buhari’s cash for Katsina ranch

- From Uja Emmanuel, Makurdi, Jide Orintunsin, Abuja and Damian Duruiheoma, Enugu

BENUE State Governor Samuel Ortom and a coalition of civil society groups at the weekend differed with the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Director-general Osita Okechukwu on President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of fund for the establishm­ent of a ranch in Katsina State.

While Ortom and the coalition, Workers and Human Rights Defenders and Mass Movement For True Democracy, Integral Developmen­t and Good Governance described Buhari’s action as hypocritic­al and misuse of public funds, Okechukwu said it was a welcome developmen­t.

Katsina State Governor Aminu Masari had on Thursday announced that the President had approved N6.25 billion for the state to embark on social developmen­t projects, including ranching.

“This is the first direct interventi­on through the state government about Federal

Government’s ranch developmen­t initiative,” Masari disclosed, adding that N5 billion out of the N6.25, billion was already in the state government’s account.

But in his reaction to the developmen­t, Ortom said if Katsina, the President home state, could be handed fund for ranch developmen­t, other states should be entitled to the same largesse.

He demanded that N100 billion be extended to Benue State, the epicentre of farmer-herder clashes to also commence its own ranch.

The governor also demanded an apology from Buhari for apparently accepting ranching, an idea he(ortom) said he had trumpeted for long even when the President continued to talk about grazing routes.

Ortom, said: “It is hypocrisy for the Federal Government to approve money for ranching in a state and leave others out.

”In fact, the governor of (Katsina) State(aminu Masari) in his remarks said N5 billion had already been remitted to their coffers. So, I begin to wonder, where are we headed.

“If the President has approved N6.25billion for Katsina State, they should also approve N100billio­n for Benue State with an apology to me because we started it(the call for ranching)”

The governor also stated that Nigerians were suffering and smiling today because the All Progressiv­es Congress (APC) led- Federal Government had failed the country.

He recalled a song, ‘Suffering and Smiling,’ by the late

famous Afrobeat exponent, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, saying he (Fela) spoke prophetica­lly.

His words:” I appreciate the late Fela Anikulakpo Kuti. He foresaw what is happening today in the country. His song titled ‘suffering and smiling’. is exactly what we are going through in Nigeria under the Apc-led Federal Government.

“Today, Nigerians are truly suffering and smiling. I feel so sad because we have failed our country but I pray God helps us.”

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