Leader of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has again hit out hard on the Federal Government’s plan to establish Farm Estate in states across the country, insisting that such plan is not recognised by law and should be disregarded by state governors.

Pa Adebanjo pointed out that the federal government has been trying to force open grazing on states using different ploys, saying that its recent proposal to establish farm estates across the country should be condemned and rejected in its entirety.

The Afenifere leader maintained that the federal government failed in its ploy to establish RUGA colonies across the country and should not attempt to force the establishment of farm estate on states, adding that the Land Use Act empowers state governors to manage and control all lands in their states.

Chief Adebanjo, while speaking during a telephone interview with Sunday Tribune, disclosed that if the Federal Government wants to promote farm estates, it should allow state governors who have the constitutional rights to dispense all lands to establish them, warning that the Buhari-led government should be reminded that “He can’t force it on states except the governor of the state accepts it. We are not under dictatorship but democracy.”

The elder statesman further berated the position of the federal government for its insistence on recovering non-existence grazing routes, saying “It is on weak ground and the position is unconstitutional. That is why he doesn’t want to do restructuring. The Land Use Act is a constitutional position. So, he can’t make it. He can’t force it on any state. Buhari has no power under the constitution to force open grazing on any state.”

Don’t introduce open grazing policy through back door —Ohanaeze tells FG

In its reaction, the Vice National President of the Igbo Social-Cultural Organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, has warned the federal government not to introduce the contentious open grazing policy through the back door.

Okeke-Ogene, who made his position known in an interview with Sunday Tribune, in Awka, Anambra State, said though farm estate is good, it must be operated in conjunction with the state governors for its smooth operations.

Speaking further, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo vice president argued that for the idea to work effectively without sentiment, the federal government should engage state governments that know their people and territory to manage the farm estates.

“The policy is good. We welcome it in the South-East but it should not be a plan that will bring in open grazing policy. Why it is a good idea is because it will create job opportunities for the youths. It will also curb criminal activities in the society”, Okeke-Ogene submitted.

He advised governors, particularly, governors from the Southern states to study the policy critically before keying into it for the sake of peace.

Ohanwe, the traditional ruler of Ihim Autonomous Community in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State demanded for a clear interpretation of what farm estate is all about.

He questioned the difference between grazing and RUGA. He was of the view that those who breed cattle in the region should go ahead with what they have while those who do not breed cattle should be left alone.

Also reacting to the development, the President of the Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders. (COSEYL) which is an umbrella body of all the youth organizations in the South-East geopolitical zone, Goodluck Egeu Ibem, said that such a plan should not be carried out in the region.

He said farm estate has no meaning to the people of the zone, describing it as an attempt to arm-twist the people of the zone.

Attempt to establish Farm estate will fail —Gani Adams

Also speaking, the Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams rubbished the idea, calling it another attempt by the Buhari government to enforce open grazing. According to him, the government can’t insist on having grazing routes in states as all lands belong to the states.

Gani Adams in an interview with Sunday Tribune maintained that the federal government should respect the principle of three tiers of government and should not attempt to impose its wish on the states and local governments.

“This plan by the government can’t work. They can’t insist on it. It will be the beginning of anarchy. It can even lead to war if the governors are determined. The governors don’t know how powerful they are; they interface with the citizens, but the Federal government does not,” he said.