President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said the policy on cattle colony proposed by Federal Government in response to the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers was not meant to colonize any part of the country.
The President said this when he received leadership of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) led by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari said the intention of the government was to create grazing locations for cattle rearers, which had now been misconstrued as another form of colonization.
He regretted that the well-thought out policy, conceived after wide consultations with stakeholders, had been largely misunderstood by a section of the public.
The president, however, assured the bishops that the federal government would continue to explore opportunities and support initiatives to ensure peace and stability in restive areas.
While condemning recent spate of killings in Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, and Zamfara states, Buhari said security operatives would ensure prosecution of perpetrators and those found with illegal arms in the affected areas.
“The impression created that I was sitting in an air-conditioned office and home enjoying myself while these things happen, is dishonest.
“At every step, I have tried to foresee these problems because I have the experience as a former military officer who commanded three out of the four divisions of the Nigerian army, in Lagos, Ibadan and Jos.
“I am quite aware of the problems we have and I am doing my best to get law enforcement agencies to be on alert,’’ he said.
The President told the bishops that he would not be tired of recounting remarkable progress recorded in the areas of security, economy and the fight against corruption.
“We have done very well on security in the North East, when you compare what the condition was before we came in and what it is now.
“On the economy, particularly agriculture, I am very pleased that God answered the prayers of Nigerians who prayed for bountiful harvest.
“People have taken advantage of Federal Government policies and programmes to return to the farm and they have not regretted.’’
On the fight against corruption, Buhari reiterated that government would be guided by the law in the investigation and prosecution of graft-related cases.
According to him, people are being prosecuted systematically with evidence.
“If a permanent secretary has five houses in Abuja, two in Kaduna and one in Borno and Sokoto and he can’t account for the properties and there are bank transactions linking him to the properties, the prosecuting agencies will not have difficulties to make progress on the case,’’ he further stated.
On the question of Federal character, he said that no ethnic group or political zone had been deliberately marginalised in the appointments made so far.
According to him, he will take a second look at areas on which issues have been raised, when a compendium of all government appointments is submitted to him.
In his remarks, Archbishop Kaigama said the Catholic Church in Nigeria would continue to support the Buhari administration and make its contribution to nation-building through prayers, admonitions and assistance to needy.
“As the voice of the people, we shall continue to highlight the plight of our people and play our prophetic role of sensitising the government, thus promoting good governance, national unity and cohesion,’’ Kaigama said.