Chief Sunday Udeh is a Lagos-based businessman and the deputy president general of the Igbo speaking community, Lagos State. He speaks on the suspended Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlement policy and other matters of interest.
What is your take on the Federal Government’s proposed and suspended RUGA settlement policy?
To be candid with you, the first time I heard about RUGA, it took my mind back to the many unwanted killings by hoodlums in the name of herdsmen. Well the rest of the South strongly believes in other priorities other than focusing and channeling our very little resources towards the personal business of a small section of our population. To have such coming at a time when the nation has been seriously battered with strokes of divides amongst other gross short falls in our infrastructure, look at our roads does it points to a nation wanting to get out of bereavement. Check out our all important power sector, health, education, insecurity and the hard to win corruption war. In all these threatening challenges, we were gunning for a policy that is capable of ending the little left of our fragile unity. Please don’t get me wrong, like every other Nigerian, I have friend s from the North and some of them are Fulani, but our friendship should not be a reason to accept wrongs that are highly detrimental to the lives of our people. The Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) became more suspicious as we leant that it was not part of the National Livestock Transformation Plan as approved by state governors under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
As for it suspension, I salute the courage of Mr. President in removing such grand plots by some individuals to sniff out the remaining peace in our country, God knows where they hope to run to when the nation start boiling for their evil deeds. For once, the president has shown himself as a leader with a listening ear and it goes far to debunk accusations that he doesn’t care about the yelling of Nigerians, but I will quickly add that suspending it is not good enough. I recommend a total dump of the idea and a probe into the motives of those who were behind this malicious policy so that that they don’t come up with a higher plot tomorrow.
A coalition of Northern bodies recently gave the Federal Government 30 days ultimatum to revert the suspension, what is your take?
Well before you finish, if my record serves me right, this is the second or third time we are getting such threats from the North, but I must also be quick to add that such statement don’t reflect the true position of the North as they are trying to make some of you believe. If they have forgotten so quickly, the Igbo man has been on the forefront of the fight for a decentralised state. The regional system had proven to be our best system ever since. The Southern marriage had actually taken place and that went well until the North joined, not really because they are bad, but because of our differences in ideology. Why not, if the North stays on their own as a region to manage their many untapped resources and pay tributes to the central government in Abuja they will be probably be fine and develop faster than this one step forward and three steps backwards we are experiencing today, same for all other regions of the country. This will promote very healthy and speedy competitions amongst states and regions and reduce this rat race for Aso-Rock every four years. I keep saying it; we are losing with this marriage of convenience forced on us by the colonial masters. If at this stage and age we are still as divided, then it’s a clear sign that we need to embrace what worked for us better.
Now that you speak about weak centre, don’t you think that it might just be a slow way to the disintegration of member nations?
I am sorry; I have to disagree with you on this your logic. What you have just said is like suggesting to a jailer, not to attend to the health needs of inmates so that they will not be healthy to serve their prison sentence for the fear of escape. The idea is to deny them their freedom and not their lives or mental well being. It’s rather unfortunate, that here in this part of the world we tend to turn things upside down. Let me ask you my friend, are we merged together for us to fight and kill ourselves or was it meant for our advancement?
For our advancement I believe.
Then we must stop thinking such, because it creates a feeling that we are in bondage only to suffer and die by the sword of a fellow country man. If that is the case, then it will mean that the Boko Haram fighters are right after all and all other crimes or vices we see on daily basis are all right. Look, we must think right as a nation. There are no fears when you did not create one. Be upright and fair at all times and you will discover that it’s just the perfect magic to keep people around and happy for a long time. If we mean well for ourselves, then we must embrace any system that will work for our advancement.
As the current deputy president general who is aspiring to be the president-general of the Igbo speaking community Lagos State, what would you say is the paramount need of your people?
The Igbo man seems to have been prepared for self governance from birth. He is a motivation to himself as he struggles daily, endlessly to impact more positively to his environment regardless of all risk associated with his place of residence. If I am to say, I will tell you that nobody is more Nigerian than the Igbo man because when you look around the 36 states, you will find his impact so strong to be ignored. He builds to stay and not with a fear or thought of leaving. They invest so mightily everywhere they are welcomed. He is one who believes in the right thing and would fight a brother for the benefit of someone who is not from his region or state.
Here in Lagos we alone account for over 40 percent of total population and when you look around you will find evidence of our years of stay stronger than any other ethnicity. We believe more in the ‘Eko’ dream and are committed to it provided that our host keep treating us well enough as critical stakeholders and patriotic citizens of Lagos State. I hope that with the kind of support we gave to Governor Sanwo-Olu and the APC here in Lagos during and after the elections he would reciprocate it by giving us appointments in his cabinet because we are very committed to the new Lagos.
Now to what is lacking among us, well despite all we posses as a people so admired, we lack unity and this is one of the things I hope to address God willing.