Senators reject Buhari’s planned farm settlements

Some senators have expressed concerns over plans by the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to establish farm settlements in each of the 108 senatorial districts in Nigeria.

They noted that any arrangement to acquire land by the Federal Government at the moment without giving details of what it would be used for, might face stiff resistance from various communities.

The President had last month, directed the National Agricultural Land Development Authority to set up the integrated farm estates in 108 senatorial districts nationwide.

Already, the policy has been greeted with criticisms from the leadership of the various ethnic groups in the middle belt, and southern part of the country, describing it as an attempt in disguise, to create grazing areas for cattle.

The Senator representing Edo South Senatorial District, Matthew Urhoghide, said the Federal Government should give details of the project before approaching state governments for land allocation.

He said, “We are in the Senate to represent our people. I know what my people want

“What we quarrel against is open grazing; we are not against ranching. We are not saying that a Fulani man that has a herd of cattle cannot come to the South to do the business of ranching but he cannot come to carry out open grazing.

“Grazing has two effects. It leads to wanton destruction of farmland. You cannot use animal husbandry to destroy crop farming. There are also criminal cases associated with it including murder.

“If the Federal Government is coming to get land in my state for ranching, it is okay because we need beef, which would be richer, when it is from the ranching system.

“However, the government should make its intention very clear on the policy to avoid major clashes and crisis.”

Similarly, Senator Abba Moro, representing Benue South in the red chamber said government could make arrangements for herders to do the business of ranching but not at the  expense of the farmers.

He advised the Federal Government to go to the drawing board and come up with a modern arrangement to make ranching the way to go.

He said, “When government policies are viewed with suspicion, when citizens lack trust in government policies, then something is wrong.

“Until we address the root causes of conflicts between herders and farmers, and genuinely come out with the right way to go through dialogue, any policy that is thrown at the citizens will be looked at with suspicion which would cause some level of tension.

“I believe that in the face of the current conflicts between herders and farmers, it is not appropriate for government to think of establishing ranches or cattle colonies in any part of the country.”

Also the Senator representing Niger North, Sabi Abdullahi, said the establishment of farm settlements would not resolve the issue of farmers – herders clashes.

The veterinary doctor said, “What the government is doing right now is not sufficient to address the issue we are facing in the country.

“Even the livestock transformation programme, as far as I am concerned, is deficient because we don’t know our livestock population.

“The last census was conducted in 1990 to ascertain the actual number of cattle in this country. The number of cattle, by projection, is put at 27 million, while sheep and goat are said to be about 11 million.

“The concern is that nobody is talking about the feed needs of the animals. People are kicking against open grazing but where is the feed for the animals?

“Even when land has been allocated for the feed, have we established the type of crops growing on such land? Is it what the animals need to eat?

“As far as I am concerned, until we tackle the livestock feeds challenge, this issue will always be there because no one can control hungry animals. They would find ways to eat whatever they see”

COVID-19: FG removes India from restricted countries’ list

The Federal Government has lifted the ban placed on flights coming into the country from India.

The government had banned passengers, who visited India, Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey in the last 14 days from entering the country as part of precautionary measures to contain the virus in the country.

But in the new travel protocol released on Sunday, the Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, indicated that the ban placed on passengers from India has been lifted.

The reviewed protocol took effect from September 14, 2021.

However, the sanctions placed on airlines that convey passengers from restricted countries and travellers who are Non-Nigerians remain.

Mustapha said, “Non-Nigerian passport holders and non-residents who visited Brazil, Turkey or South Africa within 14 days preceding travel to Nigeria, shall be denied entry into Nigeria. This regulation, however, does not apply to passengers who transited through these countries.

“Airlines who fail to comply shall mandatorily pay a penalty of $3,500 defaulting passenger; and non-Nigerians will be denied entry and returned to the country of embarkation at cost to the Airline; Nigerians and those with a permanent resident permit who visited Brazil, Turkey, and South Africa within 14 days preceding travel to Nigeria shall be made to undergo seven days of mandatory quarantine in a Government approved facility at the point-of-entry city and at cost to the passenger.

“The following conditions shall apply to such passengers: Within 24 hours of arrival shall take a COVID-19 PCR test;
ii. If Positive, the passenger shall be admitted within a government-approved treatment centre, in line with national treatment protocols; and
iii. If Negative, the Passenger shall continue to remain in quarantine and made to undergo a repeat PCR test on Day-7 of their quarantine.

“False declaration: passenger(s) who provided false or misleading contact information will be liable to prosecution; and person(s) who willfully disregard or refuse to comply with directions of Port-Health staff, security agencies or evade quarantine shall be prosecuted in accordance with the law

“This protocol comes into effect from 14th September 2021.”

He said before departure from exit country, passengers must perform a COVID-19 PCR test not more than three days before boarding, adding that the PCR tests done more than 72 hours before departure are not valid and persons will not be allowed to board.

The PSC chairman stressed that airlines have been directed not to board passengers with non-PCR COVID-19 tests (such as antigen/or antibody tests), a positive COVID-19 PCR test result, or tests performed beyond 72 hours of boarding.

He added, “Airlines that board passengers without any of the TWO documents (a negative COVID-19 PCR test done not more than 72 hours prior to boarding and a Permit to Travel Certificate/QR code), shall be sanctioned as follows: passengers, who are Non-Nigerians, will be refused entry and returned to the point of embarkation at a cost to the airline;

“Passengers who are Nigerians or holders of a permanent resident permit will be allowed entry but subjected to the procedure outlined in Section D.

“In addition, passengers arriving with forged (fake) COVID-19 PCR results shall be referred for prosecution; airlines shall be fined $3,500 per passenger.”

He said all passengers arriving in Nigeria will be required to go through the routine Port Health screening and present electronic or print-out evidence of pre-boarding COVID-19 PCR test and the Permit to Travel Certificate/QR Code as well as Present their international passports for clearance through the Nigerian Immigration Service System’s Migrants Identification Data Analysis System.S

Source: Punch