By: Luka Binniyat
KADUNA – Maro’a community on one hand and Watyap, Atyap and Kagoro communities on the other side, are pitched in hot squabble over the hosting of a proposed 50 Megawatt (Mw) solar power plant by private company, Access Quant Solar Power Limited on part of the expansive former Manchok Cattle Ranch, in Kaura Local Government Area (LGA), in Southern part of Kaduna state.
While, the Moroa community said they support the project, the other sides said they own 90% of the land and would rather the project be taken to other parts of their lands that are not arable, not the site approved by government for the controversial project which they claimed as their ‘prime farmlands.’
Their differences became manifest yesterday in a joint Press Statement signed by Chief Silas P. Bodams, Chairman, Central Planning and Coordinating Committee (CPCC) of the Landowning Communities of the Defunct Manchok Cattle Ranch and Dr. David Duniya Adams, President, Watyap Community Development Association (WCDA) made available to the press in Kaduna yesterday.
Reads part f the statement : “It has come to our attention that a ‘Public Statement’ dated 2nd March 2018, has been issued by a ‘Moro’a Development Association Committee on Access Quaint Solar Nigeria Limited”, signed by one Nuhu Waney II. In the said “public statement,’ NuhuWaney claims to ‘articulate the position of the Moro’a Nation on the final position of the people of Moro’a Community …on the proposed (solar) project.’
“The Morao Development Association (MDA)DA and its committee falsely claim that the landowners are ‘some few self-serving members of our community objecting to the sitting (sic) of this wonderful energy plant in our community.’ This statement is almost a verbatim quotation of the speech by Arc. Yusuf Bala (Bantex), Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, at Moro’a Cultural Day celebration on 6thJanuary, 2018. The CPCC has already corrected the Deputy Governor’s erroneous views by showing that the landowners from seven communities came together to set up the CPCC to pursue the cause of securing their land.
“NuhuWaney and the MDA state that they are speaking for a so-called ‘consensus’ of the majority” of their community. The MDA further states that they regard the views of the landowners ‘as rebellious and representing the thinking of a small selfish segment of the population of our community, which should never be treated seriously in any quarters and by any authority.’
“The MDA and its committee rehashed statements by Mr. Nasir Aku, Director of Access Quaint Solar Nigeria Limited, on so-called ‘positive developments’ of the solar project to their community.
“The MDA, hiding behind the Nuhu Waney committee, says they ‘place on record’ their ‘unreserved commitment (sic) to the implementation of the project in (their) community,’ and ‘assure the company and its management of (their) hospitality and reception now and in the future’.
“On the “issues” raised by the MDA and its Access Quaint committee, the CPCC and WCDA observe as follows:
“That contrary to the claims by the Moro’a Chiefdom officials, the Moro’a Development Association (MDA) and Nuhu Waney, the proposed site for the solar project is not situated on land belonging to “Moro’a Nation. They are arguing that simply because Watyap community happens to be in Moro’a Chiefdom, the Moro’a Chieftaincy can ‘accept’ the solar project and have it planted on land belonging to Watyap farmers without the consent of the landowners. This is the same argument being used to grab land belonging to several communities and hand it over to another private company, Vicampro Farms Limited on the same defunct cattle ranch
“This reasoning is from a gross and antiquated feudal posturing in the 21st century, and is unacceptable to the landowners because the land does not belong to ‘Moro’a Nation’ or Nuhu Waney’s ‘people of Moro’a Community.’
“The land in the defunct cattle ranch belongs to 12 communities, spread in three chiefdoms (Atyap, Kagoro and Moro’a), and in two LGAs (Zangon Kataf and Kaura). Of the twelve communities, 90% of the land belongs to Watyap, Magatah, Jankasa, Kangwaza, Makwakwhu, Mafok, Makabun and Madamai, WHICH ARE NOT ASHOLIO (MORO’A) communities. Only about 10% of the land in the defunct cattle ranch belongs to Gizagwai, Kajim, Mahuta and Randiyam communities of Moro’a.
” The truth must be stated that the Moro’a Traditional Council made sure that the section of the land in the defunct ranch belonging to the Asholio communities of Gizagwai, Mahuta and Randiyam was excluded from the land being grabbed by Access Quaint Solar Limited. How did NuhuWaney and the MDA manufacture their so-called ‘consensus of the majority’? When has 10% of the population of landowners become the ‘majority’? It is obviously false propaganda and acts of desperation to claim that 90% of landowners are ‘few self-serving members’ of their community.
“On the so-called benefits from Access Quaint’s ‘wonderful energy plant’, the company and its MDA supporters are thinking only of their profits, and not the interests of the owners of the land. The landowners see no benefit in giving up their best farmlands on which their families are earning their living, for planting solar panels.
“Nowhere in the world are the prime farmlands of any community taken and converted for planting solar panels. It is simply very bad economics, and gross misuse of resources. The landowners suggested two alternative sites within Watyap, which are not being intensively cultivated, for the project, which Access Quaint flatly refused. The company instead offered to relocate the farmers to a rocky uncultivable area, and offered to import “super machines” from America to remove the rocks and make the land ‘cultivable’. Instead of seeing the sinister nature of Access Quaint’s position, appointees of the Kaduna State government took to several radio stations and social media to falsely accuse the landowners of being ‘anti development.’
“Nuhu Waney and the MDA are also economical with the truth, when they presume that the MDA has power to make land available to anybody. Their so-called ‘hospitality’ and ‘assurances’ of acceptance of the project are simply empty sounds. The MDA is a non-governmental organization and pressure group. While the Land Use Act recognizes the right of families to their ancestral and inherited lands, it has absolutely no provision for NGOs to play any role on land matters.