Have you ever wondered that amongst all the states in the South-South Geopolitical Zone of the country, Cross River State has remained silent on issues bordering the Value Added Tax (VAT) and the Anti-grazing Law?
Cross River State is in Southern Nigeria as well. It is not an isolated State and it cannot exist as an island. I don't think the state can stand on its own without the support and cooperation of others.
Maybe the governor of the state, Sir Ben Ayade is optimistic that his being different and isolated from other southern governors will insulate Cross River State from whatever plague that may befall the other Southern States or even the other States in the country.
One of my worries is that Ayade does not attend meetings of the Southern Governors’ Forum and those of the South-South Governors. I know he might have his reasons for that but I think he should be attending those meetings by himself regardless of political parties. After all, the forum has governors from different political parties.
Talking about Anti-grazing Law. Ever since the issue came up, Cross River State has been silent about it.
These issues have been pursued by the Governors of Ondo, Rivers, and Lagos States. They believe it is a gateway to attaining true federalism in the country.
In one of Gov. Ayade's interviews, he stated that Fulani Herdsmen have the right to move from one place to the other with their cattle. Although many Cross Riverians frowned at the statement, saying that the governor made that declaration, not minding the effect it will have and has been having on the people.
For me, the issue of the ban on open grazing is not recent. It was given a judicial stamp of authority as far back as April 1969. That is exactly 52 years ago.
Gov. Ayade had also mentioned months ago that he will plant 'the king cattle grass' for cattle rearers. But my fear is that, won't it invite others to invade the territory?
Recall that In 1987, the Kaduna State Government introduced a program called “RUGA Settlement” and approved land measuring about 30,000 Hectares, which was taken away from the natives in Zango and Kachia Local Government Areas of Southern Kaduna and created a Grazing Reserved called “Kachia Grazing Reserve”.
In 1990, it was changed to “Ladduga Grazing Reserve”. The majority of the occupants of Ladduga are Fulanis.
It was gathered that the real owners of the land cannot enter there to know what is happening with their land.
The landmass has today been surreptitiously increased from 30,000 Hectares to over 70,000 Hectares and huge developments have been going on there to the detriment of the natives.
So this is the fear of many Cross Riverians that such an incident should not replicate itself in the state. I think, if the governor wants grass to be planted in the state, there should be other considerations and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to that effect.
Talking about VAT. This is another issue Ayade has not spoken about. While many await the governor to say something on VAT, I think Cross Riverians should know that the VAT debate is great for everyone.
But underneath it, all is a crisis of legitimacy for Nigeria’s states. Just like the Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi said, “Our very weak states must be taken care of before we say let everybody control their resources.”
For me, I do not think that the states at the forefront of this push have sat down to count the cost.
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