The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has called on the Federal Government to ditch plans to establish cattle colonies, otherwise known as ‘Ruga,’ for herdsmen in states across Nigeria because it may worsen insecurity.
The body also charged governors of the Niger Delta states to reject the programme as it tilts towards upsetting the relative peace and security being enjoyed in the region.
PANDEF stated this in a statement in Warri, yesterday, and has promised to fully fight the cause.
In a statement by its National Secretary, Alfred Mulade, PANDEF pointed out such move corroborates hearsay that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government seeks to islamise the country.
“‘Ruga’ settlements may heighten strife across the nation, not attend to “the heinous activities of the herdsmen,” PANDEF said.
Emphasising it “rejects” the programme the group added that “without any equivocation, PANDEF strongly condemns the programme and, hereby, states that there is no land anywhere in the Niger Delta for the establishment of such settlements for herdsmen.
“It is quite disturbing that in a democracy, the federal government would unilaterally decide the establishment of Ruga settlements or cattle colonies. It is necessary to note that the Land Use Act, enacted in 1978, to regulate land tenure and administration systems, and to ensure effective and equitable utilization of land and land resources in the country, vests all urban land within a state in the state governor, and all non-urban land in the local governments in which they are found.”
The group further described the gesture as “disrespect to the rule of law with impunity and authoritarianism,” which “neither fits into the practice of democracy, nor supports Mr. President’s recent recommendation of true federalism for Nigeria.
“In fact, along with the re-submission of the Inland Waterways Bill and the approval of a radio frequency for establishment of radio stations for herdsmen by the federal government, there is only one inescapable conclusion and that is; Nigeria is towing a catastrophic destiny.”
PANDEF also tasked governors of the oil-rich region to form a united front and resist cattle colonies.
“We, therefore, urge governors of the Niger Delta states to collectively reject the programme as it is capable of undermining the prevailing relative peace and security in the region.
“PANDEF considers those behind this idea as enemies of the country as the planned settlement could worsen the security situation in the country.
“We call on the federal government to jettison its plan as it is an invitation to chaos, and a prelude towards the islamisation of this country.”