The Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, has said contrary to reports that states were being coerced to be part of the Ruga settlement programme, the states mentioned actually applied to be part of it.
He also said each state adopted the name it chose to call the programme, explaining that the name Ruga did not apply to every state.
Lalong who met with President Muhammadu Buhari to brief him as chairman Northern Governors Forum, said the herdsmen/farmers committee, headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had agreed that the only solution that could address some of the insecurity issues between herdsmen and farmers is the ranching policy.
The governor who described the controversy trailing it as needless, claimed that those giving the programme different names were responsible for the controversy.
“I think, the Ruga thing should not be anything that should bring controversy with the level of sensitisation we’ve already made. I am a member of the food security committee, I am a member of the herdsmen/farmers committee, we’ve gone a long way on this issue and we’ve said that the only solution that can address some of these insecurity issues between herdsmen and farmers is the ranching policy. You remember that one time we had gone far when some people called it colony, this and that, and it created controversy.
“Again, we have gone far under the leadership of Mr Vice President, and then we are hearing other terms; what they are talking about is the same thing that we are talking about. But I think when they mentioned Ruga, it may be particular to a particular tribe but what we are doing is all encompassing, it’s for the benefit of Nigeria.
“I have said, particularly in my state, that animal husbandry, livestocks rearing is not a prerogative of one tribe, everybody must get involved in it and that is what we have done when we registered for it. We said we are going to put these structures to enable us encourage youths, train youths. Right now we are training permanent secretaries, retired civil servants who would also get involved in it so that we can address some of the insecurity that we have in the nation.
“So when somebody mentioned another word, people would not wait to question and find out who and who are bringing those words, that is just the simple fact. But if you go to what we have done because they have mentioned some states which are included, yes, those states applied, those states said we have land for it. It’s not Federal Government that is imposing it on any state. To the credit of Mr president, he has not imposed that on any state. It was voluntary. And they said any state that is prepared to do that to address insecurity should come and apply. So, some of the states applied and we are at the level of the pilot scheme and some mischief-makers would start bringing terms to cause confusion in the country. It’s very unfortunate.”
Asked if the criticisms were political, Lalong said: “I don’t know whether it is political. Of course, I am a member of the committee, by the time we addressed that issue some people said yes we would prefer to do open grazing in our state, some said we would prefer to do ranching in our state and some said in our state we would call it Ruga model.