President Muhammadu Buhari says he lacks the constitutional powers to create cattle colonies across the country because the Land Use Act promulgated under the Obasanjo regime vested state governors and local government chairmen with powers to control land in their domains.
He pointed out that under the 1978 Land Use Act, the office of the President has no control of lands in states, except in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, adding that only state lawmakers can create reserve through legislation after assent by governors.
The President made this clarification yesterday through his Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, at the South-South Zonal meeting of the National Committee of Buhari Support Groups, NCBSG, in Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
Buhari also stated that his administration was determined to build an equitable and progressive society, where Nigerians can look forward to the opportunities for realising their full potential without hindrance.
He said: “When Nigeria was one region or state, that was before Nigeria was formed as a country, we had cattle routes running from Chad, Niger and others down to the Atlantic. When Nigeria became four regions, we had cattle routes in each of the regions.
“When Nigeria created states, each of the states made laws to regulate rearing of animals. In 1978, under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, as head of state, March 28, I think I am correct, the Land Use Act was made. Under the Land Use Act, the President of Nigeria has power to control lands in Abuja only.
“Under the Land Use Act, each state governor, under Section 2 of the Land Use Act, land in urban areas of each of the state of the federation shall be vested on the governor. Now, subsection 1(2b) says land in the rural areas shall be vested on the local government chairman of that area.
“Then in section 6, the Act stated that it shall be within the competence of the Local Government Chairman to give land for agricultural purposes including grazing purposes and sub-section 51 defined grazing purposes to be the purposes of planting grasses for animals.
“Going by this, the President of Nigeria is not in any way planning to give land to Fulani herdsmen anywhere in Nigeria, because by the provision of the Land Use Act, the President controls no land in the country, except in Abuja.”
Enang, who stressed that “there is no law in Nigeria now before the President to sign to create grazing reserve, added that “the President does not, cannot and will not give land to any herdsmen for grazing reserve because he is not the governor of the state”.
He further said that the commitment of his administration to lay the foundations, informed its actions in tackling “theft, diversion and misappropriation of public funds but steadily diversifying the economy for sustained growth and tackling the myriads of security challenges bedeviling the land.
“As a government, we are committed to laying the foundations upon which an equitable and progressive society can be built, in which all citizens can look forward to the opportunities for realising their full potential without let or hindrance.
“This informed our actions in tackling theft, diversion and misappropriation of public funds, gradually, but steadily diversifying the economy for sustained growth and tackling the myriads of security challenges bedeviling the land.
“While it is still work in progress, we are confident that the amount of work done in the first 32 months of this administration, points to a new solid foundation for building the Nigeria of our dreams.
“Not only did we ease out of an inevitable recession in record time, our revenue profile, our foreign reserves and foreign investments are all on the rise again; and we have mobilized contractors back to project sites across the country, including the South-South Zone”.
The presidential aide assured that the lingering East West road project would be completed before the end of the year to give way for a kick-off of the other phases of the project.