Magnus Eze, Enugu, Romanus Ugwu and Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja , Rose Ejembi, Makurdi and Gyang Bere, Jos
Applause has greeted the decision of the Federal Government to put the contentious Ruga settlement policy on hold.
Chairman of the National Food Security/Herders/Farmers Conflict and Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, who briefed journalists at the end of the meeting presided over by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, confirmed that the Presidency supended the policy designed to address the incessant clashes between herders and farmers across the country, because it is inconsistent with the approved National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
“We are aware that the president has suspended the implementation of Ruga Programme initiated and being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources. This is because it is not consistent with the NEC and Federal Government’s approved NLTP.
“NLTP has programmes of rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) resulting from the crisis and also development of ranching in any willing state of the federation; the word is ‘willing state of the federation’” he said.
Governor Umahi said each willing state is expected to come up with a plan unique to it based on the challenges that it has in respect of the farmers/herders crisis.
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom described the suspension as victory for all peace loving Nigerians.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, he said the rejection of Ruga was not personal but rather a struggle by the people against impunity and injustice.
“Governor Ortom commended President Muhammadu Buhari for heeding the call of the people for the suspension of the Ruga settlement patterns.
“He said the decision to suspend Ruga showed that president Buhari has heard the voices of majority of Nigerians on the matter.”
The governor quoted from the Holy Bible, the book of John 8: 32: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free,” and maintained that truth has prevailed on the Ruga issue.
He, however, enjoined government to take a step further to encourage pastoralists and other livestock owners to embrace ranching as the best model of animal husbandry.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide also applauded government’s action.
President General of Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo, in a statement, described government’s decision as heart-warming, noting that it was the first time the current government had deferred to people’s opinion on public issues.
He said issues surrounding Ruga indicated the importance of consulting the people before taking certain decisions that will affect them.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo is as worried about the restoration of peace between farmers and herders in the country as the Federal Government and believes that the ultimate solution to it is to embrace ranching.
“Government should carry out an audit of foreigners in the country and ascertain those with genuine entry papers, deport those illegally in the country as well as ensure that the nation’s borders are properly controlled and manned to avert further massive infiltration,” Nwodo stated.
“As a process towards healing the present wounds and uniting the country, the Igbo leader advised that adequate compensation be paid to relations of victims of the unwarranted killings in the country in recent times.
Meanwhile, northern youths under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) has issued a 30-day ultimatum to President Buhari to implement the Ruga policy across the country, warning that the group will resort to a line of action after the ultimatum.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, CNG spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, slammed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for disowning the project.
In a communique released after the meeting, the group said: “While we warn all state governors that stand against the implementation of the Ruga initiative to desist and give peace a chance, we place President Buhari and the Federal Government on notice that they must act to halt and completely stop this raging madness within 30 days beginning from today, Wednesday July 3, 2019.
“The Nigerian security agencies are also placed on notice to check and bring under control the current unbridled inflammatory remarks by southern leaders in the same manner they swiftly coined a tag of ‘hate speech’ around the Kaduna Declaration.
“We warn the elders, political and religious leaders of southern Nigeria to urgently halt the inciting remarks that provoke hate against the North, keeping in mind that no single person or group has the sole monopoly of unguarded remarks that instigate hatred.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we advise the federal authorities and the southern leaders to heed the 30-day notice failing which we would most definitely be left with no option than to consider resorting to our decisive line of action.”
It slammed those it called enemies of the North, both foreign and local, who have worked strenuously to ensure that the region remains backward, divided, weak, confused and bewildered by myriads of challenges and problems so that it cannot survive long in the event of a breakup.
“This conspiracy has been perpetrated with the active connivance of some leaders from the North, accommodated by the cowardice of those that present themselves as northern political leaders today and feeds on the negligence and insincerely of the federal authorities.”
We won’t seize land from villagers -Lalong
In a related development, the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, has assured that there is no plan to forcefully take over lands from natives for ranching programme in the state.
He noted that the controversial RUGA settlement has the same similarities with ranching programme depending which many believed would resolve the conflicts between farmers and herders in the state.
He got a thumb up from the Plateau Regeneration Group for the establishment of ranching policy in the state to halt farmer/herders clashes.
In a statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary, Pam Datri, it said the attempt by politicians to drag ranching policy into politics should be discouraged in the interest of peace and unity of the state.