The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has withdrawn a statement he made recently, which gave the impression that his administration was now willing to provide grazing land for herders.
Edo, like some other Nigerian states, have been struggling with deadly clashes between herders and farmers.
MrObaseki, while on a fact-finding tour to Udo, Ovia South West Local Government Area of the state to assess the impact of the herders-farmers conflict, a few days ago, said, "We will create an area where the cattle will go regularly to eat, as they must not go to peoples' farms.
"This will stop cattle from moving around the community, including in farmlands."
The governor's remark was clearly a reversal of his tough stance in 2019 during the now suspended controversial RUGA programme of the federal government.
"We assure Edo people that Governor Obaseki will not cede their rights and land to anybody, as our programmes as a sovereign state do not run on the back of any external entity," the Edo Government House said in a statement at the time.
"In all the agricultural programmes being executed by the Obaseki administration, the safety, security and prosperity of our people are the top priority and non-negotiable," the statement added.
'No, we aren't ceding any land to herders'The Edo State Government, on Thursday, however, issued a fresh statement, denying that MrObaseki's administration was planning to give land to herders.
"Our position on the matter of grazing land is clear and has not shifted, which is that there is no free land for grazing in Edo State," the Secretary to the Edo State Government, OsarodionOgie, said in the statement.
"Grazing is an economic activity just like poultry and piggery or any other agricultural enterprise. The Edo State Government will not cede any land in the state for grazing," MrOgie added.
MrObaseki himself later offered some explanation to what he meant when he said "We will create an area where the cattle will go regularly to eat".
"I said (the) state government is not in the business of ranching or of providing grazing lands. However, there are communities that have lands, which have, as at today, accommodated herders under some arrangements," the governor said, Friday, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, when reporters asked why he "reneged" on his promise to make land available for grazing in his state
"What I suggested was that these communities should look at making lands available where – when herdsmen come in, they can grow grass and charge them to herd in specific areas and avoid getting the herdsmen to trespass into other people's farm lands because that is what causes the crisis."
MrObaseki reiterated that some herders do have a private arrangement with some communities in Edo.