Obaseki seeks FG funding for Edo ranches, denies plans to return to APC

Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has called on the Federal Government to provide funds for those in private business to set up ranches in the state.

He tabled this demand to President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.

Speaking to State House Correspondents after the meeting, the governor while acknowledging that 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.

Obaseki 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 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extensive town hall meetings, to deal with the issue that, yes, we do not want open grazing, it is out-modelled, it’s outdated, however, what are the options?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 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.”

Meanwhile, Obaseki has rubbished suggestions that he would return to the All Progressive Congress (APC), saying that with his integrity, he could not contemplate such a move.

Fielding questions from correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday at the presidential villa, Abuja, he also called for the electronic transmission of all election results in the country.

He said he could not abandon the party that gave him cover while he was pushed out of his former platform.

Obaseki declared: “Well, I think I’ve shown that I’m a politician with integrity and I have made it very clear that I didn’t leave the other party on my own, I was pushed out of the party, and someone else gave me cover, gave me an opportunity.

“It will not be the right thing to do to now leave who helped you, who gave you the umbrella in your storm, and then go back to the person who pushed you out.”

Recalled that the governor joined that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when he was denied the gubernatorial ticket of the All Progressive Congress (APC) just before the 2020 election.

While reacting to the Senate’s decision to reverse Irs earlier resolution on electronic transmission of the election results, the governor affirmed that he would probably not have returned as governor but for the deployment of technology by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

He said: “If not for the technology utilised by INEC, and God, I may not be governor today. So, I am one of those people who believe that we cannot and should not have elections in this country, going into the future, without transmitting results electronically from the polling units, because for elections to be credible, they have to be seen as transparent and once you have voted, you should be assured that your vote will count.

“With technology today, it is possible and INEC has shown it from my elections, that as soon as you voted, and the results have been counted in the polling units, then that result should be made available, such that you already know what you expect to be collated at the ward collation points.

“What has happened in many cases in the past is that people go and vote, the votes are counted in the polling units, they know, but by the time it gets to the collation point, it changes.

“But this time around, because of the transparency, everybody will see and know what they are expecting to be collated from the polling units. That is what happened in my election.

“So, I am a very strong advocate for electronic transmission of results from elections and I want to also note that from my personal experience, INEC has the capacity, INEC has the technology, and also the understanding of how these things should work. So, they should be encouraged. I hope and pray that the President will assent to that bill.”

The governor was however not categorical in his assessment of the direct primaries also adopted by the Senate, saying that while political parties should be allowed to determine their own procedure, if properly supervised, direct primaries would help the nation’s democratic development.

He explained: “My party is currently undertaking an electronic registration of our members across the country. Because we anticipated that one day, you will be required to show your own register, because if we as political parties vote on the basis of an election register, then the parties must also have their registers because democracy has to begin with the parties and it’s only when you have very clear open registers, then you can now have whatever form of elections from within the party.

“I would have thought that parties should have options; if a party wants to reduce the cost of their own internal primaries, by having a delegate system, having an electoral college and a delegate system, they should have the option to do so.

“But to just lump everybody together and say look, it’s the only way to go! I would have suggested that you should have options.

“However, the direct primaries process, properly supervised, is a very fundamental step in the evolution of our democratic system.”

The governor also spoke on the lingering internal crisis in the Edo state chapter of the PDP, saying as a party that was in opposition for 12 years in the state, it would take a while to develop an understanding among new and olds members.

He stated: “You have to understand that this is politics. My current party was in opposition for 12 years and this is the first time the party is being in government.

“So, it will take a while for everybody to come together to have an understanding of the new role and the new position we occupy.

“It’s only a natural and normal process in party politics. But I can assure you it’s been sorted. Yes, we had a peculiar situation. So, it’s not just about me coming to join your party.

“There were some internal crises, even in the old party, which we’re trying to heal. We’ve made some significant progress and I believe that it will be sorted out before our convention.”

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