Ruga settlements: Southeast urges FG to pilot scheme in northern states

Ruga settlements: Southeast urges FG to pilot scheme in northern states

- Southeast governors dismissed the rumour that they have secretly earmarked land in the region for the Ruga settlement programme

- The governors under the auspices of the Southeast Governors’ Forum (SGF) said they cannot earmark land for RUGA due to lack of enough land in the entire Southeast

- The governors, therefore, advised FG to kick start the progamme in the northern states, promising their commitment to selling grasses and by-product of farms to support the initiative

Southeast governors have on Tuesday, July 9, reiterated their stand that they have not earmarked any land in the region for the Ruga settlement programme proposed by the federal government.

The governors under the auspices of the Southeast Governors’ Forum (SGF) through a statement by its director general, Prof Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, advised the federal government to kick-off the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), under which RUGA is subsumed, in the north, the Nation reports.

The SGF statement reads: “The attention of the SGF has been drawn to the various attacks and campaign of calumny by our people alleging that governors of the Southeast have secretly donated land for RUGA programme being promoted by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the NLTP as approved by the National Economic Council (NEC).”

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The governors maintained that none of the “Southeast governors has donated any land or intends to donate any land for any of the two programmes due to lack of enough land in the entire Southeast.

“Governors of Southeast appreciate the fact that we have good and law-abiding herdsmen who have been living with us; some of them were even born here. We have been living in peace with them until recently when we started witnessing invasion of our land, kidnapping of our people, killing of defenseless natives and destruction of their farmlands.

“These herdsmen that have been living peacefully with us together with the natives have insisted that these evil as now experienced in our land are the handiwork of herdsmen moving from other states into Southeast and most of the time, these herdsmen are not even Nigerians.”

The governors said that they will not chase away peaceful herdsmen who have been living harmoniously among them.

The statement further reads: “That we agreed with herdsmen living peacefully with us and the natives that movement of cows into the Southeast should be by road transportation using trailers to their specific cow markets. No more allowing foreign herdsmen to move their cattle by foot as this is the point of conflict with the farmers and natives.”

The governors also noted that they are committed to selling grasses and by-product of farms to support NLTP for states that have keyed into the programme.

They stated their believe that herdsmen deserve a better life and commended the federal government for their good intentions in this direction.

“However, it must be emphasized that what federal government and NEC approved was NLTP and it is not compulsory for all the states but for any willing state who wants to participate in NLTP,” the statement said.

The governors, therefore, advised the federal government to start implementing the NLTP in the northern states that have accepted the programme.

They said: “In this direction, we advise the federal government to immediately start the implementation of NLTP in the Northern States that have accepted the programme and where we have large expanse of land.

“This will surely stop the movement of cows from one state to the other and put a stop to the crisis and suspicion between farmers and herdsmen.

“The objective and success of this programme must be viewed along the lines of conflict resolution, welfare for herders, peaceful co-existence among farmers and herders, rehabilitation and reintegration of the displaced farmers/herders and natives and increase in the wealth of herders, farmers and the nation at large."

The governors also assured the southeasterners living in the north of their safety, urging them to ignore the threat recently issued by "self-styled Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG)".

“We ask all our people living outside the Southeast, especially in the North to ignore the threat contained in the video message by self-styled Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG). We are in talks with the Northern Governors and their leaders who speak for their people and they have assured us that there is no harm that will befall our people living in various Northern states across Nigeria.

“Finally, we advise those drumming for war to remember our mothers and children and have a rethink. In a state of war, even your friends could become your enemies. Let us bond together as one people and start to think on how to rebuild our youths whose future we ate up in the time past, rebuild our nation whose patriotism we ignored in the time past and love one another,” they said.

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Meanwhile, the Ruga initiative has been described as a form of colonialism by Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba state.

Speaking with newsmen at the Government House in Jalingo on Tuesday, July 9, the governor said the programme should be cancelled, not just suspended.

Ishaku pointed out that Taraba already has a law prohibiting open grazing; insisting that the policy would not have worked in the state.

He added that he submitted a loan request to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to facilitate ranching in the state, but the loan was not approved.

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