Linus Oota, Lafia
Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule has disclosed that the proposed Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlements for herdsmen will soon take off in the state.
This is even as Senator Walid Jirbrin, PDP Board of Trustees member, said the suspension of the RUGA plan by the Federal Government is to allow all stakeholders to ensure it os accepted by all.
Governor Sule said that the benefits of the plan includes a drastic reduction in conflicts between herders and farmers, noting that it will boost animal protection with complete the food value chain that will increase the quality and hygiene of livestock in terms of beef and milk production.
The Governor stated this in Lafia when members of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) led by Senator Walid Jirbrin, who is the state chairman of Ardos in Nasarawa State, paid him a courtesy call at his campaign office in Lafia.
Governor Sule said his government is establishing RUGA in order to curb open grazing of animals that continue to pose security threats to farmers and herders alike.
He said the RUGA settlements will provide necessary and adequate basic amenities such as schools, hospitals, roads network, vet clinics, market and manufacturing entities that will process and add value to meat and other animal products.
Other benefits of RUGA settlements, according to the Governor, are job creation, access to credit facilities, security for pastoral families and curtailment of cattle rustling, adding that before the Federal Government came out with the proposal, he was the first governor to visit the Federal Ministry of Agriculture requesting its establishment in the central Nigerian state.
Speaking earlier, Senator Walid Jirbrin, who led a large number of Fulani leaders on his courtesy call, said that the purpose of the visit was to discuss with the Governor the proposed RUGA programme for herdsmen all over the country and the willingness of the Nasarawa State Government to participate.
According to him. “the Fulanis in Nasarawa State accept the RUGA project in order to minimize conflict and everyday killings; the Fulanis will, therefore, corporate with you and the Federal Government in order to allow peace to reign in Nasarawa State.
“I will fully participate in the project if you include me. The suspension of the RUGA project is to allow all stakeholders to ensure that the project is accepted by all.
“May I remind all that cattle rearing has been an old tradition and occupation for herdsmen for over five centuries, which I believe needs some adjustments and modernisation for the betterment of herdsmen.
“I am always disturbed seeing conflict between herdsmen and farmers leading to the killings, death and destruction of properties, realizing that Fulanis have been living peaceful with all tribes in the state.
“There are grazing reserves and cattle paths provided which helped to reduce conflicts; the lack of cattle paths today make Fulanis move on busy roads struggling with motor vehicles and pedestrians.
“One area of concern is that the population of farmers/communities and the herdsmen keep increasing with that of the cattle population increasing tremendously; this leads to continued demand for land by farmers and herdsmen, coupled with the large purchase of land by rich men, and the need for government development projects and introduction of modern farm equipment that consume more land. But unfortunately the land remains the same,” senator Jirbrin explained.
He called on southern Nigerians to be calm as the RUGA project is being planned, assuring them that it was not mandatory, citing that only 12 of the 19 northern states have endorsed the controversial proposal.