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2019: Okowa ‘Thwarts’ Delta Assembly Efforts On Anti-grazing Bill In Order Not To Offend Buhari

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A legislature designed to forestall the recurring menace of Fulani Herdsmen in Delta State is currently being frustrated from becoming a law at the State House of Assembly, BigPen Online can report.

The new Speaker, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori who inherited the bill christened “Delta State Anti-grazing Bill” is allegedly being railroaded not to legislate over the Bill.

The chairman of the Delta State Advisory Council, Mr. Sam Oyovbaire is said to be the brain behind the failure of the House to reopen the Bill which had already passed second reading.

Oyovbaire, was said to have convinced Governor Ifeanyi Okowa that the Bill, if passed into law may likely work against his second team ambition since it was a law to root out Fulani Herdsmen who are kinsmen of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Credible sources told BigPen Online that the lawmakers are very angry that the Bill which had scaled all the hurdles is suddenly being benched owing to vested interest by the governor.

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The source said that the Governor is trying to play safe with the passage of the bill in order not to offend the All Progressives Congress, APC-led federal government of President Buhari which is pushing the grazing reserves Bill at the federal level.

It was gathered that Oyovbaire, a former Minister of Information who is serving as Chairman of the State Advisory Council had vowed that the Bill will not see the light of the day since it is capable of clogging the chances of Okowa to return to power in 2019.

However, some of lawmakers who expressed misgivings over the issue of the bill which has been kept in the drawer by the current Speaker, Oborevwori, said that the issue if not properly handle might threaten the relative peace in the House.

The lawmakers who spoke anonymously said that the current logjam over that particular Bill may cause them to take drastic action that might shake up the political landscape of the state.

“Apart from one or two members and the speaker, working with the governor to frustrate the Bill, the rest members have resolved that any further delay, the governor and Oborevwori shall hear from us.

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“This is a Bill that has passed first and second reading and went through public hearing where Deltans submitted well articulated memorandum on what they want which were embedded in the bill.

“When the Bill came back to the House at the committee of Whole, sections 1-8 was passed while section 9-20 has not been passed.

“The House was to consider the remaining sections and passed it on that fateful day the former Speaker, Mr. Monday Igbuya was impeached.

“After Igbuya’s removal, to our greatest shock, as soon as Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori became the new Speaker, Prof. Sam Oyovbaire, a political godfather to the governor mounted pressure on the Speaker, who incidentally is his ‘political godson’ for the Bill not to be passed.

“We don’t know his interest, but his narrative is that the Governor should delay the passage of the bill until he gets his second term ticket.

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“And that Okowa should not offend or work against the Hausa-Fulani’s interest, because APC led federal government is headed by a northerner and that they can use their influence to stop Okowa’s second term ambition.”

“For goodness sake, we are talking about lives here …Everyone know how worrisome this problem of Fulani Herdsmen killing Deltans is today and we want to come out with a legislature to curtail their menace and people are playing politics with it? I will not support this!”

Another lawmaker who also expressed dismay over the apparent thwarting of the bill noted that the Bill if passed into law will put a final stop to the incessant killing and maiming of Deltans by the Fulani Herdsmen.

“It is very sad that governor Okowa, the Speaker and chairman of Delta State Advisory Council are now playing politics with the lives of Deltans because of the governor’s second term aspiration. For God sake, our people are being killed on daily basis.

“Does it not surprise you to note that all the killing by herdsmen in Ndokwa, Abraka, Ughelli, Ethiope East and other parts of the state, are treated with kid gloves?

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“In Edo State here, just only one attack that led to the loss of life, Governor Godwin Obasike drove over two hours to Esian to commiserate with the victim’s family. That is how you know a good governor…

“It will also interest you to know that the herdsmen have not killed anybody in Agbor or the governor’s kinsmen; probably that’s why he is comfortable playing politics with it..otherwise why should the governor dictate the bill to pass and which should not be pass now?

Sources at the Assembly said that the lawmakers who are very much embittered over the Bill issue have decided to keep it to their chest and watch if the Speaker would continue to fail to reintroduce the bill for commencement of finally legislature on it.

“I will only advise the governor and the speaker and their political godfather to stop playing politics with the lives of Deltans and hands off and allow us to pass the grazing Bill and stop the herdsmen killing of our people daily without provocation.

“Taraba, Benue, Bayelsa have passed theirs and that of Edo state just passed the second reading, and that of Delta started before these states.

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“All the efforts House members put into this bill can never be in vain, just because of vested interest. We must not play politics with the lives of Deltans, no way! He known if he doesn’t stop us now we would veto him if we eventually passed it but I can assure you if he continues this way, he will hear from us in another form”.

An chieftain of the All Progressive Congress, (APC) in the State, Mr. Wilson Omene while speaking about the delay in passage of the bill had warned Governor Okowa not to use the lives and properties of Deltans as a negotiating instruments for his second term ambition.

Omene, a former Chairman of Ethiope West local government area advised Okowa to device a more strategic way to win the votes of Deltans and stop playing politics with the lives of Deltans because of his second tenure ticket.

“Okowa should hands off and allow the House to pass the grazing bill. The main purpose of government is to provide security for the lives and properties of the citizens and Governor Okowa has failed in this regard by working to thwart the passage of the grazing bill, while the herdsmen runs riot in Delta.” Omene said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, Mr Dennis Otu has dismissed claims that the Speaker was being manipulated to kill the Bill saying that the bill is on course and not subject for any election strategy.

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He said that there was no cause for alarm over the passage of the Bill adding that the House was in one accord in its legislative business.

Otu in a terse message to BigPen Online said: “The bill is in the Committee of The Whole House  (hallowed chamber) after successfully scaled through 2nd reading and public hearing.

“The House members have amended it to Section 8 and promised to continue on Section 9. The Bill is on course and receiving adequate attention of the House.

“It not true that the Lawmakers are being made to frustrate the Bill. It is also not true that the Speaker is being manipulated by the Governor to kill the Bill.

“This accusation is laughable and should not be taken seriously. The Bill is on course and there is no cause for alarm over the Bill”, he added.

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