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Buhari, Obaseki meet in Aso Rock

Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki Wednesday met President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja urging him to provide funds for private business people to set up ranches in the state.

Speaking to correspondents after the meeting, he affirmed that while many southern states have passed the anti-opening grazing law as agreed, Edo was yet to do so because it wanted to be sure it could enforce the law.

He said he told the president that Edo people have resolved that ranching was a private business but since it is expensive, the federal government should make funds available for interested individuals under the National Livestock Transformation Programme.

He said: “Principally, there were four issues I discussed with him. First has to do with the position of Edo State on the anti-grazing law. As you know, most southern states have passed laws relating to open grazing, but Edo has not, because we want to ensure that whatever laws we pass are laws that we can enforce.

“We’ve had extensive consultations with our people, extensive town hall meetings, to deal with the issue that, yes, we do not want open grazing, it is out-modeled, it’s outdated, however, what are the options?

“If we are asking that we should now have ranches and these cattle should now be constrained to specific areas, such as ranches, then who provides the land?

“My people say that, as far as they’re concerned, ranching is a private business and therefore, just like every other agricultural venture, those involved should provide the land.

“As you already know, it is expensive, it is not cheap to run and manage ranches.

“So, what I came to discuss with the President was that since the people of Edo would rather invest privately, those who are interested want to make it a private concern, then the National Livestock Transformation Programme, which is now being implemented by the federal government, should acknowledge our model, and should also be able to help people benefit from the funding that is now being made available for people who want to go into the livestock business and make investments in ranches and other similar livestock programmes.

“He, as usual, took notes, and I’m sure he’s going to do something about it.”

Governor Obaseki said he also apprised the president of the debts owed by federal agencies to the state and asked him for intervention.

“I informed him about some amounts that are being owed to the Edo State government by some federal agencies and he promised to look into them and to ensure that these sums are paid back to the Edo State government. So, in a nutshell, those were the things I came to discuss with Mr. President,” he stated.

He commended President Buhari for his assistance in effort to retrieved Edo artifacts from Europe and other countries, assuring him that Edo state would continue to support his administration.

Obaseki added: “The other issue was to thank the federal government, the President, for the efforts of the federal government in assisting the current efforts to return the Edo artefacts that are all over the world.

“As you may already know, there have been attempts over the last 30 years, by various people and various governments, to push for the return of these works.

“We took it as a project about three years ago, I know for me, it was a personal project, worked through most curators or museums in Europe and we were able to come to this breakthrough, which we now have received from the Germans.

“So, I want to thank the federal government for the support. As you know, these works, these artefacts, are coming from other sovereign countries and the laws of Nigeria stipulate that the federal government has preserved, exclusive rights to deal with arts, artefacts and monuments, and to pledge to the President that the Edo state government and Edo people will continue to support the federal government’s efforts.

“We’ll do all that is within our powers, to make sure that these works are brought back to Nigeria and also for them to be domiciled where they were taken from, which is Benin City.”

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