Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has called on the people of the South East region of the country to rise up to reject vehemently the proposed grazing colonies.
The President, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu State chapter, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, who made the call in a statement issued, in Enugu, on Tuesday night, called on “governors of all Southeast states, our senators, members of House of Representatives, members of the state Houses of Assembly in the Southeast, the traditional Institutions and other major stakeholders and indeed the entire Igbo nation to rise up against any form of internal colonization under any guise.”
Ohanaeze advised the Federal Government to instead initiate urgent processes towards the restructuring of Nigeria along the lines of true fiscal federalism rather than toying with the bizarre idea of grazing colonies.
“We hereby state without fear of contradiction that establishment of grazing colonies is not the answer to restructuring Nigeria, an option which Ohanaeze is committed and disposed to.
“We are not unmindful of the palpable fears in many quarters, within and outside Nigeria, that there is a grand plot to impose a certain faith upon our people. Much as we will continue to work for and believe in the unity of Nigeria, our people will resist any move aimed at sacrificing us at the altar of that unity.
“Government should, therefore, refrain from initiatives that would tend to give credence to the alleged agenda of faith imposition,” Ogbonnia advised.
He noted that any attempt by the Federal Government to carry out the policy would amount to usurpation of the people’s right to existence and would thus be vehemently resisted by Ndigbo.
“God Himself frowns at this kind of policy. According to the law of God, ‘If anyone grazes their livestock in a field or vineyard and lets those animals stray and graze in someone else’s field, the offender must make restitution from the best of his own field or vineyard,” he quoted Exodus 22:5 as saying.
Ogbonnia also urged the Enugu State government, the state House of Assembly and other institutions in the state “to resist in the strongest terms the concession of any part of Enugu State for the purpose of creating grazing colonies for the Fulani herdsmen.”
Giving reasins for the Ohanaeze action, the state president said: “That the initiative is merely a more monstrous reincarnation of the dubious National Grazing Reserve Bill, which seeks to establish a National Grazing Reserve Commission that will acquire, hold, lease or dispose of any property, moveable or immoveable for the purpose of carrying out its function.
“That this initiative amounts to internal colonization of our political space basically because we cannot even challenge such unilateral acquisition in any law court in Nigeria without obtaining a leave or consent of the Attorney General of the Federation.
“That grazing colonies simply means a forceful takeover of people’s ancestral lands and assigning same to Fulani herdsmen who shall use the land for grazing purposes.
“That this initiative amounts to a deliberate attempt by the government to take over our lands and handover to Fulani herdsmen whose economy is anchored on cattle rearing.
“That Igbo economy especially in terms of agriculture and other forms of development is at risk on account of this initiative.
“That this amounts also to enacting a law that would be preferential and advantageous to one ethnic group at the expense and detriment of other component parts of Nigeria, especially Ndigbo.
“That the reasons given by the Federal Government to justify this action are vague, preposterous and, therefore, totally unacceptable to the good people of Enugu State and Ndigbo in general,” the statement read.