The Plateau Government has set up a 14-man team to examine the gains and implications of establishing cattle grazing reserves and ranches in the state.
Gov. Simon Lalong, who disclosed this in Jos on Wednesday, at a high-level dialogue on grazing ranches organised by Search For Common Ground, an international NGO, said that the team’s report would guide government on the next step.
He said that the team was expected to determine the difference between grazing reserves and ranches, and suggest which would fit more conveniently into the peculiar situation in Plateau.
Lalong dismissed the claims that Plateau had already given out land for ranches, declaring that the state had only made a statement of intent.
“Plateau has not taken any decision on whether to establish ranches or grazing reserves.
“Discussions and consultations are still ongoing at various levels and it is the result of such discussions that will coalesce into what Plateau will decide to do,” he said.
He regretted that all that had been said so far on the issue had been based on “ignorance, deliberate distortions, lies and outright mischief.’’
The governor said that reserves had been in Plateau for long, adding that the state had found them obsolete as they had consistently led to deeper interactions between the farmers and herdsmen.
“Such interactions have led to more clashes and all we want now is to look for channels to end such clashes and violence,’’ he said.
Lalong, who said government was being careful in handling the issue, declared that the final decision would depend solely on the wishes of the Plateau people.
The governor cautioned politicians against politicising sensitive issues that could lead to conflicts, suggesting that the interest of the public should always be paramount in all policies and public discourse.
In his remarks, Mr Shamil Idriss, President, Search for Common Ground, urged leaders to ensure more enlightenment that would focus on promoting more common grounds for peace.
He said that natural disasters and even the effects of climate change were developments that humanity must come together to tackle toward a safe world for all.
Idriss emphasised the need to listen to all sides to every conflict with a view to seeking out meeting points so that the disagreements would not result in violence.
According to reports, the dialogue would feature discussions by members of a panel who would examine the implications of the grazing reserves to peace, food security and healthy environment.