The Presidency said Wednesday night that theFederal Government has disbursed N24 billion to four states, including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Katsina, Yobe and Ebonyi.
Recall that Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, had alleged that only Katsina State was granted N6.2 billion for ranching because it was President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state, stressing that the President’s decision to review grazing routes was unconstitutional.
However, Ebonyi State government yesterday denied receiving any money from the Federal Government for the purpose of establishing cattle ranches in different parts of the state
But speaking in an interview on a Channels Television programme, ‘’Politics Today,’’ Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said some of the states given the funds for ranching, even before Katsina got its own.
Disclosing that more than 12 states were being processed for payments, Shehu said: “Yes, Katsina has been given money, but Katsina has not been the only one given. So far, about 24 billion has been issued to four states on ranching and associated activities.
“Yobe has been given, Ebonyi, and FCT has been given. More than 12 states are now being processed for these payments.
‘’We have heard all this nonsense being said by lawyers who ordinarily should be respected – accusing the president… the president cannot be nepotistic, he cannot descend so slow to do what others before him have done.
“He is a fair and just leader, the fact that Katsina got money, one of two of these states got their own before Katsina but it is because they did not go to town with it, that is why the people are calling out the president and the governor of Benue is saying all these trash against him..”
Meanwhile, Ebonyi State government yesterday denied receiving N6 billion from the Federal Government for the purpose of establishing cattle ranches in different parts of the state.
Mr. Francis Nwaze, Special Assistant to the Governor, Media and Publicity, explained in a statement: “Ebonyi State government never at any time received any money for ranching in the state and will not receive any money for the same purpose as there is no available land for ranching in the state.
“We have received the news making the rounds that Ebonyi State is among the states in the federation that have received the sum of N6 billion each for ranching as attributed to the Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu while responding to questions on Channels Television on Wednesday night.
‘’We wish to clarify as follows: That should any Ebonyian opt to engage in personal ranching, Ebonyians should see such venture as a personal decision of such person who must use his/her land for the purpose.
“This is because Ebonyi State government has continued to maintain that there is no land for ranching in the state and it is not about to renege on the decision.”
But reacting to this in a statement yesterday, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Ebonyi State, which said it was in shock over the large sum of money given to the state and no one knew about it, called on the state government to make full disclosure of the said ranching fund.
The reaction of the party was contained in a statement issued by Silas Joseph Onu, Publicity Secretary, PDP, Ebonyi State.
The statement read: “PDP, Ebonyi State is in shock that such a large sum of money was given to the state and no one knew about it and we are now wondering if it was meant for the development of a private ranch owned by those who received the money?
“This government has continually treated our Commonwealth as the governor’s personal estate. This revelation regarding N6 billion given to the state for ranching.
‘’If the Presidency had not revealed it, we may never have had such an information. This is a call for probe by all Ebonyians to unearth more hidden activities done by this government against Ebonyi State.”
“We call on the government to immediately make full disclosure on this ranching fund given for public good. We need to ensure that cattle are no longer seen in the public and in the farms of our people, as this will settle the clashes that have taken lives needlessly.
“We are eternally committed to do justice for the good people of Ebonyi State and will not allow this issue, along with many others to be swept under the proverbial carpet.”