Amidst the ongoing debate over the National Grazing Bill before the National Assembly, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has urged the Federal Government to limit the proposed reserves to the northern region of the country to forestall further clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers.
The governor said that FG should take urgent steps towards this end to avoid the situation snowballing into a major crises in the country.
He stated this on Monday during a press conference in Asaba to mark his one year in office.
The Senator said; “If the grazing reserves are created in the north, we may be able to limit the movement of the herdsmen down south. The reason is because there are more lands in the north, and with the Minister of Agriculture bringing in foreign grasses that grow faster, with the right irrigation, the ranches in the north can help end the growing suspicion and unease between the herdsmen and their hosts in the south, where there are less lands”.
The governor also noted that the present economic crunch in the country has severely affected his proposed developmental plans for Deltans in his first year as governor. He added that despite the present economic downturn in the country, his government has remained on course, although has not achieved as much as it expected in terms of quantum.
Governor Okowa explained that his government has refused to adopt FG’s Treasury Single Account(TSA) because they needed to modify it to stem the challenges it poses for banks.
On the ongoing pipeline vandalism by the militants in the Niger Delta, the governor said his administration, with collaboration from host communities is working on bringing the destruction of oil facilities to an end. He also revealed that the deputy governor, Barrister Kingsley Otuaro is presently in the creeks discussing with the militants to that end.
He however, informed the journalists that it was still too early for him to tell whether they were prepared to down weapons, but assured that the advocacy of Otuaro’s team will speed up results.
On allegations of his complicity in the alleged fraud in the Delta Independent Power Project(IPP), Okowa denied receiving any fund since 2008 when the project was initiated by ex-governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
He said “I was not directly involved in the project, I can pride myself that I didn’t collect a kobo from the project. If I have had interest, the probe wouldn’t have commenced. The truth is that I did not stop the House of Assembly from probing the project. Like every other Deltan, I will want the project to be completed”.
He listed some of the challenges in the project as gas turbines and evacuation plants, while noting that government is looking at possible ways of either selling or continuing the project; “We are deliberating whether to sell it or continue with the project.
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