Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Bauchi is ready for Ruga settlements to be established by the Federal government as part of finding a lasting solution to deadly herders-farmers clashes, says state governor Bala Mohammed.
According to him, up to 70 percent of the residents are Fulani.
He made this position clear to State House correspondents on Monday after he met behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.
Responding to a question on whether Bauchi was keying into the Ruga settlement programme, Mohammed who said he met President Buhari to discuss pressing issues of the state including insecurity said: “Yes. There is no programme that will be done…because there are more Fulani in the state, 60 or 70 percent of the population in Bauchi are Fulani and therefore we must leverage all these. We have illiteracy, insurgency and so many things that are bombarding us in terms of social challenges and security challenges. Definitely, we will do that.”
With this pronouncement, Bauchi joins other states that have keyed into the project, amidst rejection from the South East and South-South regions.
The Ruga pilot projects are in Sokoto, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Taraba, Katsina, Plateau, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger states.
Recall that the immediate past Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, in May, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the Ruga settlement initiative earlier in the same month.
Already all the five South-East state governors, Samuel Ortom (Benue); Darius Ishaku (Taraba) and the Ondo State governments have rejected the Ruga settlements, saying they would not give out their land for herdsmen’s.
But the Presidency on Sunday said the settlement would be in an organised place with provision of necessary and adequate basic amenities such as schools, hospitals, road networks, vet clinics, markets and manufacturing entities that will process and add value to meat and animal products.
The presidency who reiterated that the settlement programme is voluntary, noted that the Federal government was planning this in order to curb open grazing of animals that continue to pose security threats to farmers and herders.
The Bauchi State governor also pointed out that he had utmost respect for the president although they are from opposing political parties.
Besides, he pledged to work with the Federal government to implement solutions to the nation’s numerous problems.
He described his interaction with President Buhari which areas such as social, security and development challenges of the state as “favourable.”