Plateau State Governor, Mr. Solomon Lalong, on Friday accused his predecessor, Jonah Jang, of allegedly being behind the recent protest in the state over the introduction of cattle ranches as a way of ending the incessant farmers and herdsmen’s clashes.
Lalong spoke with State House correspondents shortly after he met President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
While saying that the protest was restricted to a few ethnic groups, the governor said his government had done a lot of consultations and all stakeholders including traditional rulers, religious leaders and youth organisations accepted that the state should adopt ranching.
He said what the protesters kicked against was grazing reserve while the state government is talking about ranches.
He said, “The man who introduced and is causing that confusion is Jonah Jang who incidentally was the one who introduced grazing reserves on the Plateau with a gazette in 2009. That is the gazette I am going to publish.
“If you said if we have to bring peace in Plateau State, you have to introduce grazing reserves and grazing routes, why is he turning round again and instigating people against what is being done?
“He is trying to give an impression that it is the President that is introducing it; is not the President, it is an option to every state to key into the concept of grazing ranch.
“Its ranches, not grazing reserve so I have set up a 14-man committee and they have addressed traditional rulers who adopted it, they have addressed the religious leaders who also adopted it, youth organisations also adopted it.
“So whatever you see in my state now is just pocket of crisis or protest and not part of what the state has done.
“We have concluded our consultations and the state accepted that we should proceed with ranches which is very economical and that would also help in curbing the insecurity that we have in our state.”
The governor explained that the ranches would be funded by both the Federal and state governments.
He regretted that some people had erroneously taken the scheme to be a project of the All Progressives Congress that must be foiled by the Peoples Democratic Party.
On the challenges of paying salaries, Lalong said Buhari had approved the balance of bail out of N5bn for Plateau State.
With the bailout, the governor said state workers were already being paid their outstanding salaries.
He said, “Mr. President approved the money on the eve of his departure to London when he was even sick. I got an approval for the balance of N5bn for the state which has been drawn for the payment of their balance of arrears, what we have is balance of arrears on the Plateau.
“I have paid and we have about three months between yesterday (Thursday) and today (Friday), the workers are already being paid, so after salary for a Plateau man,he is no longer annoyed of anything, he would allow government to run unhindered.
“So that was what they were trying to use during the grazing reserve because people were hungry, lack of salaries.
“They first drummed the issue of salaries, that we will not be able to pay the arrears of salaries but today we have the monies and we are paying then they came up with the issue of reserves.”