From Gyang Bere, Jos
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong has said he rejected the implementation of the Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) scheme in Plateau because it fell short of addressing the concerns of most state governors.
Lalong, in a press statement signed by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Dr Makut Simon Macham, said the National Economic Council thoroughly debated, scrutinised and adpoted the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) as a comprehensive and inclusive approach to tackle herder-farmer clashes and other forms of criminalities.
‘The RUGA initiative did not have the buy in of stakeholders and fell short of addressing the concerns of most Governors, it was not possible to embrace it. This fueled the misconception over the NLTP which is neither for one ethnic group nor meant for land grabbing,’ the governor said in the statement.
‘I was one of the first Governors to kick against the RUGA program when it was introduced. To start with, the concept was literally sneaked in for reasons we did not understand.
‘For me as Governor of Plateau State, I just heared that they have erected signposts in some sites within some local Governments. How can you earmark such a project without my knowledge and buy-in of the people in my State? I had no interest in it because it was far below the NLTP which was more robust and passed through series of engagements with critical stakeholders.’
Lalong said Plateau State subscribed to the NLTP because it will carry along many groups and individuals involved in Livestock business and its associated value chains.
He said the beneficiaries include farmers, herders and other people involved in processing of meat and packaging and said a provision for other animals such as sheep goats, pigs among others was embedded in.
Governor Lalong who said Plateau State was chosen as one of the pilot States having earmarked the Wase and Kanam Grazing reserves, reiterated that the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) will go a long way is addressing many of the issues associated with the activities of herdsmen which have led to clashes with farmers and other crimes.
The governor condemned the activities of herdsmen who perpetrate violence and bear arms; and called for strong measures to end the ugly trend.
He lamented that there are many non-state actors who are in possession of arms, a situation that must be addressed.
‘Today, we are now seeing the hazard of allowing people do open grazing here and there. But they (herders) also want solution; by the time you explain to them, they also want to stay in one place, they would also want to keep away from carrying AK-47.
‘I’m not justifying anybody to carry AK-47 but don’t forget that in the course of our deliberations and investigations, it was not only Fulani herdsmen that were carrying AK-47, even farmers were carrying AK-47.’
Lalong said in order to address the situation, deliberate efforts must be put in place to curtail the influx of light arms while other ways such as the NLTP must be embraced to take these people away from the old type of farming and then introduce them to the modern system.