There is an executive bill before the State House of Assembly on land administration which is generating tension in the state, can you give us an insight into what the bill entails?
The bill is full of issues but I will focus on issues that are controversial which people are kicking against. If you remember, there was an enactment in 1978 or thereabout on land use Act that gave powers to authorities over urban land and that Act gave the powers of the administration of land to the Local Government; that was what has been on ground for the past years. But surprisingly, the Executive bill that the governor sent to the House is trying to amend those fundamentals. Section 2 of the bill said the governor will have the right over both rural and urban land, and that is what has been generating tension among the people. It is the assumption of the people that if the bill is passed into law, the governor can decide to do whatever he feels like doing with any land in the state.
What do you think is the fear now?
The fear is that we have been having a lot of issues on grazing, Ruga and all other issues that has been agitating the minds of the people on livestock management; the fear of most Plateau people now is that assuming you have what it takes to own a land for instance in Quan’Pan, you have to go through the Local Government Chairman of Quan’Pan to do that and most of the Council Chairmen are with their own people. If they know that the purpose of the land is for Ruga or something that will not benefit the people, he will oppose it. The governor feels that by amending that law, he can sit in his office and take over land in Bokkos, Mangu or Barkin-Ladi and do whatever he wants to do with it; average people in Plateau see that the bill portends danger for the state; those are the controversies and the fear of the people.
What stage is the bill before the State House of Assembly?
It has passed through first and second reading; it is going to Committee level now in preparation for public hearing; we are waiting for them to go to public hearing, when it gets there, people have been anxious and calling to know when the Public hearing will be; people want to bring their views, opinion and thoughts over the bill, if it is open for public hearing, the public will get to know more about the bill.
Are you saying that Plateau people will likely reject the bill?
Of course, certainly yes, I know people from the PDP extraction, not just that there are people who are not partisan that frown at the bill but it portends serious threat to Plateau State. I have spoken to quite a number of my brothers in the APC, they are equally not comfortable with the bill and I can assure you by the grace and mercy of God, that bill will be killed.