The Presidency has said some states without signified interest in the RUGA scheme have been misleading Nigerians on attempt by government to take away their lands.
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) had on Sunday kicked against the proposed RUGA Settlements the federal government is embarking upon in states of the federation, describing the idea as repugnant, repulsive and provocative as, according to the group, it sought to colonize the rest of Nigeria under the guise of promoting cattle rearing.
But in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity Garba Shehu, the presidency on Sunday, also revealed that a total of 12 states had made land available for the controversial RUGA settlement scheme, which is meant not only for Fulani herdsmen.
The Presidency said states that have applied to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, are making lands available for the take-off of the scheme in their states, expressing that the number was sufficient for the pilot scheme.
According to him, “Unfortunately, some state governments that have not signified interest in the scheme and, therefore, are not on the invitation list have been misleading people that the Federal Government is embarking on a scheme to take away their lands.
“Mostly, these are state leaders that have no explanation to offer their people for continued non-payment of workers’ salaries. It is true that government at the centre has gazetted lands in all states of the federation but because the idea is not to force this programme on anyone, the government has limited the take-off to the dozen states with valid requests.
“We urge states to join the Federal Government at the centre in encouraging all sides to these conflicts to make efforts towards finding a peaceful resolution. As we seek a permanent solution to these unwanted conflicts, efforts must be made to ensure that no innocent person faces any kind of deprivation or loss of right and freedom under our laws.” He concluded.
He, explained that beneficiaries of RUGA will “include all persons in animal husbandary”
Describing what RUGA means, Garba said ““Ruga Settlement” that seeks to settle migrant pastoral families simply means rural settlement in which animal farmers, not just cattle herders, will be settled in an organized place with provision of necessary and adequate basic amenities such as schools, hospitals, road networks, vet clinics, markets and manufacturing entities that will process and add value to meats and animal products.
“Beneficiaries will include all persons in animal husbandry, not only Fulani herders.”
The Federal Government said it’s planning this in order to curb open grazing of animals that have continued to pose security threats to farmers and herders.
“The overall benefit to the nation includes a drastic reduction in conflicts between herders and farmers, a boost in animal protection complete with a value chain that will increase the quality and hygiene of livestock in terms of beef and milk production, increased quality of feeding and access to animal care and private sector participation in commercial pasture production by way of investments,” he said.
Garba explained other gains to include: job creation, access to credit facilities, security for pastoral families and curtailment of cattle rustling.
The Presidency advised Nigerians to stripped of the politics and howling that has attended the recent comments, adding that “there was no government plan to seize state land, colonize territory or impose Ruga on any part of the federation. Government has made it clear time and again that the programme is voluntary.”