The Deputy National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Uchenna Okogbuo, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for saving Nigeria from what would have been an Armageddon, following the suspension of the RUGA project.
What is your take on the suspension of the controversial RUGA project?
Well, I want to say that President Muhammadu Buhari acted like a true statesman by suspending the programme. However, I had expected a total abrogation of the programme because it was ill-conceived and a waiting explosion to happen in Nigeria. Some political jobbers in the North had already started talking tough, not considering the feeling of the people in the South and Middle parts of the country on this issue. The matter even took a dangerous dimension when the spokesman of the president, Garba Shehu, recklessly announced that the Federal Government has already gazetted lands in the 36 states of the federation for the take off of the RUGA project.
But when he was asked the number and information in the gazette, considering that going by the land use act, every land in a state is under the control of the state governor, he could not provide answer to the questions. So, it is clear that some political jobbers within the presidency are out to put the president in bad light. They are there to cause problem for the president .I am therefore, advising them to be thinking Nigeria instead of self or being bias in contentious national issues. As I said earlier, the president acted as the president of the people with a listening ear and we pray that he would continue like this on other national issues.
But what do you think would have been the consequences if it was implemented?
Like I told you earlier, the stakeholders in the North had already started talking tough while the stakeholders in the South had mobilised and waiting for the implementation. The result would have been better imagined. You saw the South East, South South, South West and Middle Belt spoke with one voice on the issue. Their single position was that RUGA is unacceptable to them. Therefore, going ahead to implement such a programme would have been catastrophic. Our hand is already full with insecurity and RUGA would have certainly made the volcano which the country is sitting on at the moment to erupt. It would have been an ill-wind that would have blown nobody any good. That is why I am saying that suspending the programme is certainly not enough. It should be abrogated, that is buried to resurrect no more.
What advice do you have for the president on the issue?
The truth which everybody, including the president handlers know is that cattle rearing is not a Federal Government’s business. It is a private business. The question then is why should it be made a national issue? Recently, some Nigerians who were deported from Libya went to the government of Edo State and pleaded to be given land for farming and fishing. The Federal Government should have as well gazetted lands in the 36 states of the federation and give to them as it wanted to do for the cattle rearers. This would have even be better because according to data from Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), agriculture contributes about 30 per cent to our GDP while animal husbandry contributes only five per cent .But we now have a situation whereby some people want to sacrifice 30 per cent for five per cent. My opinion is that Federal Government should focus more on projects that would create employment, build houses, build infrastructure, those are projects which are masses -oriented, rather than talking about private businesses. In foreign countries, especially Germany, there are big time animal farmers. You see them in their ranches, surrounded by electric barbwire and mini fencing to prevent the cattle and other animals from going out to destroy farm products. This is the way to go. We should be professional in our cattle and other livestock businesses.
As a security expert, what is your take on the state of insecurity in Nigeria?
I have said in many fora that national security is not a one man affair. I have also said it that security is secret and with a lot of strategies. I always frown whenever I see our security agents discuss the gains and losses of our war against insurgency in the electronic and print media. When you are fighting terrorism, the terrorists are always happy when you complain. In that wise, they would feel that they are making impact. But when strategies are well articulated and progress made without funfair and publicity, the terrorists feel the heat and some of them would disengage because they would feel that what they are doing is a waste of effort, since nobody talks about them. So, my advice to our security agents is to talk less and do more. Again, there is need to strengthen the intelligence gathering and also create a lot of under covers as it is done in civilised nations.