President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent directive to revive cattle grazing routes across the States of the Federation may encounter a setback in Bayelsa State, South South, Nigeria as the State governor, Douye Diri said on Saturday that there were no cattle grazing routes in Bayelsa, explaining that his people are predominantly farmers.
He gave the clarification while reacting to questions after his maiden Democracy Day briefing in Yenagoa.
Much as he wouldn’t counter Federal government’s directive, he disclosed that he has put all necessary measures in place to ban open grazing in Bayelsa State, hence, cattles wouldn’t be allowed movement openly.
The governor said Southern governors Forum which he is a member have taken a position while he has adopted as part of measures to check farmers/herders’ crises.
Diri maintained that his government could not afford to expose its citizenry to the looming danger.
His words: “For us, there are no cattle grazing routes in Bayelsa State. Our people are traditionally and occupationally fishermen. The idea of cattle grazing routes in Bayelsa is very strange to us in this part of the country.”
Accorsing to him, Nigeria is a federalist nation which States have the rights to enact laws to regulate the activities of their people, stressing that the prohibition on open grazing of cattle would be fully implemented in the State.
“There may be cattle grazing routes in the north but what is applicable in the north may not be applicable to us in the south. I don’t want to believe we are running a unitary system of government.”
Meanwhile, Governor Diri has maintained that he is committed to turning around the developmental fortune of the Bayelsa State through tourism and the ongoing urban renewal programmes.
The governor said democracy was about the people and Nigeria had come a long way with 22 years of uninterrupted civilian rule, which he observed had not been smooth but worth celebrating.
He noted that the urban renewal programme among other projects and policies of his administration were part of the drive to give the state a new look and make it more attractive to investors.
Governor Diri said the state had a lot of tourism potential and that his government was open to discussion and ready to sign memorandums with partners to develop projects in the tourism sector.
He explained that the ongoing demolition of illegal structures in the state capital was in line with the administration’s urban renewal policy.
He expressed concern over the proliferation of shanties across the state capital coupled with the obstruction of traffic by traders along the major roads, which he said was unacceptable.
The governor noted that as a result of the demolition, sanity had been restored in most of its major markets in areas like Swali, Kpansia and Tombia-Etegwe, adding that some of such illegal structures serve as hide-outs for criminals.
On the issue of the federal government’s infrastructure development refund to the state, Senator Diri clarified that the actual amount it received was N27.5 billion and not N38.4 billion as being speculated.
He further explained that the total refund due the state was N38.4 billion but that according to the federal government, its release would not be possible in the next four years and offered the state a second option of a discounted amount of N27.5 billion through the Debt Management Office, which it got last December.
The governor also said the refund had been committed to constructing critical capital projects such as the Yenagoa- Oporoma road in the Bayelsa Central Senatorial District and the Sagbama-Ekeremo