Uzo-Uwani Locals Reject Enugu State Govt’s Proposed Ranch Project

Livestock cows cattle

A groundswell of opposition has emerged in Nimbo and Uzo-Uwani local government area of Enugu State against the state government’s proposed ranch project.

The Uzo-Uwaji Professionals Association (UZPA) has taken a firm stance, voicing their disapproval through a press statement signed by its president and secretary. The group, representing the community, expressed concern over the lack of community engagement in the conceptualisation and design of the ranch project.

In a press statement, the president and secretary of UZPA stated, “The government, through the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Aka Eze Aka, released a statement clarifying the intention of the government, stating that it was part of the plan to implement the Prohibition of Open Grazing law of Enugu State. The state government also intends to use the ranch project to curb rising insecurity, including kidnapping, murder and rape perpetrated by herdsmen in the local government.”

UZPA acknowledged the government’s explanation but found fault with the lack of community engagement. They argued that the first time the Nimbo community heard about the project was through a phone call from the chairman of the local government, notifying the president general of the community. The group emphasised that such an approach was insufficient and insensitive, considering the historical context of the proposed location.

The statement continued, “The project is not only insensitive, it is abrasive to the sensibilities of the people of Nimbo community and of Uzo-Uwani in general. To underscore the government’s ill-intention, the total lack of community engagement in the concept and design of the project is befuddling.”

The association raised questions about the government’s approach, particularly regarding compensation for land expropriation and the lack of effort to engage affected communities. They argued that Nimbo, having suffered a deadly attack by herdsmen in 2016, should not be subjected to having a ranch project imposed on them without proper consultation.

The UZPA statement stated, “It is astounding that it is lost on the Mbah administration the tragedy of this proposal in the context of the historical grief: that the innocent victims of a murderous invasion would have their land, their most prized asset, expropriated by the state government to settle the perpetrators of the massacre.”

UZPA also lamented the poor state of infrastructure in Uzo-Uwani and criticised the government for not prioritising projects that align with the community’s needs and strengths. They questioned the choice of a cattle settlement when Uzo-Uwani is known for crop farming and timber reserves.

The association suggested alternative projects that would better serve the community’s interests, such as the activation of the Adarice Project, which has the potential to make Igbo land self-sufficient in rice and other crop produce. They highlighted the neglect of Uzo-Uwani in recent agricultural initiatives by the state government, indicating a larger pattern of disregard for the community.

UZPA called on the Enugu state government to immediately halt any further design and attempts to implement the proposed ranch project in Uzo-Uwani local government area. They urged the government to engage in meaningful consultations with affected communities and consider projects that align with the agricultural strengths and aspirations of the people of Uzo-Uwani. The association emphasised the importance of community involvement and expressed disappointment in the perceived disdain shown by the government toward Uzo-Uwani.

Omowumi Semudara
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