Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has explained that the planned annexation of land in states for cattle colonies, also called Ruga settlement is to settle farmers/herders clashes.
This is even as it reiterated that the settlement programme is voluntary
In a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the presidency described criticism trailing the planned settlements as unhelpful.
The settlement, he said, will 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 meats and animal products.
He also added that beneficiaries will include all persons in animal husbandry, not only Fulani herders.
The statement read inpart: “The Federal Government is planning this in order to curb open grazing of animals that continue to pose security threats to farmers and herders.
“The overall benefit to the nation includes a drastic reduction in conflicts between herders and farmers, a boost in animal protection complete with a value chain that will increase the quality and hygiene of livestock in terms of beef and milk production, increased quality of feeding and access to animal care and private sector participation in commercial pasture production by way of investments. Other gains are job creation, access to credit facilities, security for pastoral families and curtailment of cattle rustling.
“Stripped of the politics and howling that has attended the recent comments, there is no government plan to seize state land, colonize territory or impose Ruga on any part of the federation. Government has made it clear time and again that the programme is voluntary.
“So far, 12 states have applied to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, making lands available for the take-off of the scheme in their states. This number is sufficient for the pilot scheme.
“Unfortunately, some state governments that have not signified interest in the scheme and, therefore, are not on the invitation list have been misleading people that the Federal Government is embarking on a scheme to take away their lands.”