The federal government will decide whether to send soldiers to end the killings allegedly being perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen in Benue state only after a thorough evaluation of the situation.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, told State House correspondents after the first meeting of the year of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the Presidential villa, Abuja, on Wednesday that government was deeply concerned about what it said was the deadly clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
Asked why the government had not considered setting up full-fledged military operation in the affected parts of the state similar to other operations in other parts of the country, the Minister said the issue would first be discussed thoroughly.
He said: “On the second leg of your question, is that government is very much concern about the herdsmen and farmers clashes and it is receiving attention at the highest level.
“As to who to send, that will be decided after thorough deliberations the matter.”
Mohammed had also been asked to clarify the issue of cattle colonies being contemplated by the federal government as a way out of the incessant clashes, but before he could explain, Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, jumped in to assure that the government would not implement the initiative without a recourse to the landowners and the law.
He stated: “The question of the colony or grazing land or whatever name they are called, is about the same thing really.
“I don’t think the government will do anything without recourse to owners of farmlands and laws of the land.”
Sirika also revealed that FEC had approved an independent power supply to Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja.
He noted that there had been power and water challenges particularly in the newly constructed terminal which would be resolved in phases.
He said: “As you are aware we had challenges on our first day of work in 2018. The new terminal building at the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport which is called Chinese Building has the challenge of power, water, sewage, apron etc that we are putting up there.
“So, we have to find a way of dealing with those challenges. We are putting up an independent power system at the airport which has been approved by FEC.
“Subsequently, we will also tend to the challenges of water, sewage, apron, connectivity between the old and new airport and all the fire stations that are blocking the usage of the airport and perhaps also the control tower that is connecting the other side of the airport.
“All these will be attended to in phases in preparation for the full utilization of the airport.”
Meanwhile, FEC has approved the contract for the construction of the Gboko section of the 9th Mile/Oturkpo road that links Enugu State to Benue State at the cost of N5.44billion.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, disclosed this during the FEC briefing.
He said the project was awarded to the existing contractor who has 24 months to complete it.
Fashola added: “My ministry handled one memo today and it was for the Gboko section of the 9th Mile/Oturkpo road that links Enugu State to Benue State.
“The Benue section is already under construction. So, what we have just done is to award the 36 kilometers that connect the Enugu section to the road.
“This is a major agrarian connectivity in support of our agricultural policies.
“The council approved that memorandum. The award was to the existing contractor who is already working on the Benue section so that we should have a seamless deployment of machines and materials to the site.
“We expect that this should be completed in 24 months. The contract sum is N5.44 billion.”