Open Grazing: You’ve embarrassed Imo people – Imo PDP scribe, Emeana hits Uzodinma hard
By Tunji Adedeji
The Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State and former member of the State House of Assembly, Nze Ray Emeana has lambasted Governor Hope Uzodimma for saying there is no law in Imo State banning open grazing.
Emeana in this interview with DAILY POST said it was most embarrassing and shameful for Uzodinma to say there is no anti-grazing law in Imo State when there is one.
The former university don also said, come 2023 governorship position must come back to the Owerri zone, adding that it is not negotiable.
”No amount of intimidation, harassment and arrest will stop it. Owerri zone will rise strongly, determined, united and wrestle power from this failed administration like never before, he averred.
The PDP scribe also gave his assessment of the ruling APC administration in Imo State among other burning issues.
Question: How do you see the statement of Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma declaring that there is no anti-grazing law in the state?
It is unfortunate because I won’t say that the governor lied but I think this is the highest display of ignorance of law governing the state where Uzodinma is the governor. It also shows the kind of government that exists in the state. I would have thought that the governor was misquoted but having seen the video myself. I feel the Attorney General of Imo State by now would have come out clearly to correct the governor and guide him and Imo people appropriately.
It is most unfortunate that we have a system where there is no thought process, no engagement on the system of government in place of the key critical stakeholders and other arms and parts of government before a pronouncement of this magnitude is made. For the avoidance of doubt you know that the South Governors met and agreed to ban open grazing in the whole of the South and for our governor to come out open and absent Imo State from that agreement makes us a parallel state among committees of South States, even Northern states have come to say open grazing is outdated that the only way to go is ranching. The security crises we have in Imo State today, we can not go far without attributing it majorly to open grazing of cattle.
For the avoidance of doubts, Imo State Law No.9 of 2006 signed by Chief Achike Udenwa, former Governor of Imo State on 19th January 2007 made it very clear and the Law is called a Law to prohibit the grazing of cattle in restricted areas in Imo State and matter related thereto.
The law made it very clear that rearing of cattle means breeding of cows and others, taking cattle out on streets, and taking cattle out for grazing in Owerri Capital Territory within 5km radius measured from Douglas Road post office, Owerri and every part of Imo State is hereby prohibited.
A cattle rearer can not take his cattle into cultivated land within Imo State. Anybody who contravenes section 3 and some of these laws is guilty of an offence liable to a fine of N50,000.00. In the case of section 4, they will pay compensation to the crop owner to cover the total cost of crops destroyed by the cattle in addition to a fine which may be proscribed by the magistrate court.
This is completely clear and unambiguous. It shows that this grazing thing is not new. You and I know that this has been pervading in this state for many years back and to solve all these problems Imo State House of Assembly in 2006 passed this bill into law and it was assented by the governor of the state.
For a sitting governor of the state to wake up and say there is no such anti-grazing law beats my imagination and that of every right-thinking person. It is most embarrassing to say no anti-grazing law in Imo State.
It is most embarrassing that our governor on national television says there is no anti-grazing law when there is one in Imo State. He went further to say there is an agreement between the farmers and herders, so where is the agreement and with which farmers? Our people will take time to plant cassava, corn and yam, people will come with their hungry cows enter into their farms, ravage their crops and kill the plants and the owners of the crops goes home with nothing and the governor does not consider it a responsibility to protect the owners of the crops. It is most embarrassing where we find ourselves in the state.
Even the 1999 Constitution clearly gave the control of pests and animals as the responsibility of the Local Government. It is in the Nigeria Constitution that the Local Government should control the movement of pests and animals. This is why in a local government system there is a department called animal handlers. Their duty is to go from village to village and get animals that wander into other people’s farms. It is a fundamental function guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Question: What is your assessment of the current administration of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC in Imo State?
People can hardly have three square meals in Imo State today. We can’t even go home again once it rains. Owerri zone as a hub of entertainment and tourism can not even function because by the time it is 6pm everybody will start running home. Many people have lost their jobs especially those in the hotel or hospitality business. Even eateries where young men and women are employed have all sacked their staff because the patronage is no longer there and they can not pay staff salary.
Uzodinma is almost 2years in office what can he show for it? Is it in the healthcare sector, is there any person in this state that go to government hospitals apart from Federal Medical Center? In the area of Agriculture, is there any thriving farm? Look at Nekede Zoo, the road has been cut off, completely unaccessible and people living around Old Nekede cannot go home. We have a similar situation at MCC Road. Look at the heaps of refuse on our roads. We are even lucky there is no epidemic in the state today.
Look at the rate of burial happening every Thursday and Friday in our state what do you think is even responsible for it? When there are heaps of refuse in all parts of the state, no hospitals and people are not been paid salaries, pensioners are there dying without being paid. Which critical aspect of our lives is functional today and Uzodinma says it doesn’t matter why should we break our heads?
DAILY POST: Let’s talk about the zoning of governorship position in Imo, do you think Owerri zone indigene deserves a slot come 2023 or Uzodinma should be allowed to complete his 2nd term in office?
EMEANA: I attended a conference in Lagos organized by Ripples Nigeria two days ago where the governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa was the chairman of the event. The governor in his opening speech said Delta State has been consistent with its zoning arrangement. The zoning of governorship rotates among the three geopolitical zones and was unequivocal that after him governorship will move to the next zone. If you go to EnuguState, zoning is almost sacrosanct. You are aware that in Anambra State, one of the reasons why many did not get the ticket is because the people insisted on zoning. You go to Abia State it is the same story. Governorship rotates among three senatorial zones.
We are here shouting that we are being marginalised by the Hausas and Yorubas and yet by 2023 a particular zone or section in Imo State would have ruled the state for 24years. This zone called the Orlu zone became governor through the instrumentality of the Owerri zone that insisted that governorship should be rotated among the three zones in Imo State. It was Chief I.D. Nwoga when he was the Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP and other leaders of Imo State that insisted that Sam Mbakwe had gone, Owerri had gone even though it was 18months, it has tasted it, let it go to Orlu. After Orlu it will come back to Okigwe and back to Owerri. It got to Orlu and they have held it hostage. Is that fair, equitable and justifiable? Where are our consciences as a people in Imo State? Today in Imo State all the institutions of governance be it in education etc. are all from the Orlu zone particularly Oru East, nobody cares about equity, fairness yet the Nigerian Constitution provides for Federal Character. The shame of all these is that some of our brothers from Owerri zone because of a pot of porridge and crumbs that fall off the table have sold their consciences to the devil and they are busy saying it doesn’t matter. I want to tell you let them continue to be slaves to Orlu people, let their children and grandchildren continue to be slaves. I will not be and my children will not but come 2023 governorship must come back to the Owerri zone.
It is not negotiable and no amount of intimidation, embarrassment and harassment will stop it. Owerri zone will rise strongly, determined, united and wrestle power like never before. We are committed to it. Forget the fact that for every twelve there is a Judas like those sons and daughters of Owerri zone who are supporting Orlu to rule them forever. These are people without any roots. They have no followers. They always lose elections even in their booths and they know that if things are well done they will lose their livelihood which is likely illegitimate. That is why they find it convenient to sell their consciences.