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FG begins Ruga settlements in Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Kaduna, others

Despite the harsh criticism of the planned establishment of Ruga settlements across the country, the Federal Government is set to commence the pilot phase of the project in Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Kaduna and seven other states, Saturday PUNCH’s investigations have confirmed.

It was learnt in Abuja on Friday that the execution of the project would start in 11 states including Sokoto, Nasarawa, Kogi, Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger.

Documents seen by one of our correspondents at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that all was set for the implementation of the initiative.

According to senior officials of the ministry, the Federal Government is determined to go ahead with the project, notwithstanding the public outcry, particularly in the South.

“The pilot states for its implementation are Sokoto, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Taraba, Katsina, Plateau, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger. They are actually 11 in number and the governors of these states are coming to the ministry to learn how the Ruga settlements will be implemented,” a senior official at the FMARD, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

The source added, “These are the states that have fully shown their interest. But unfortunately, people are talking about this as if the Federal Government is planning to grab land in the states. That’s not true. The plan is mainly for these states that are ready and the Federal Government had a discussion with the governors concerned.

“Some of the governors came here and they promised to provide land because they have seen the benefits they will derive from the initiative. It is not that the Federal Government wants to invade the states, no!”

When asked whether the government would go ahead with the initiative despite its rejection by many other states, the official replied, “Why not? Of course, the government will go ahead with the programme, particularly in states that are willing to have it. For states that are not interested, no problem.”

On Tuesday, the Permanent Secretary, FMARD, Mohammed Umar, said aside from the states where the pilot phase of the programme would start, many other states had expressed their interest in the scheme.

The project is said to be part of the solution to the incessant clashes between farmers and herders.

Umar had said, “The Ruga settlement will attract a lot of investment to Nigeria and it is our belief that in the next five years, each Ruga settlement will provide nothing less than 2,000 employment opportunities. We are collaborating with the cattle breeders associations in Nigeria.”

On May 21, 2019, the immediate past Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, had announced that Buhari approved the Ruga settlement initiative earlier in the same month.

Osinbajo, Miyetti Allah differ on Ruga settlement project execution

Meanwhile, the Office of the Vice-President and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria on Friday disagreed over the implementation of the controversial Ruga settlement initiative.

While MACBAN’s General Secretary, Baba Ngelzarma, claimed on Sunrise Daily, a programme on Channels Television, on Friday that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo’s office was helping Fulani herdsmen to create Ruga settlements across the country, Laolu Akande, media aide to Osinbajo, denied the claim.

Ngelzerma had told Channels Television that the Ruga settlement model was a component part of the livestock development and transformation plan being implemented under the Office of the Vice-President.

He said, “All must agree with me that the crisis we are facing today has become a multi-dimensional one. So, the approach must also be holistic. It was the desire of the Federal Government to take a holistic approach that gave birth to the Ruga settlement model and it is not only Fulani who are herders.

“In Southern Kaduna, there are natives who are also herders. Even in Plateau, there are groups that are herders. It was intended for the herders as part of the effort by the government to come up with an economic model of resolving this crisis.

“This is an integrated settlement that will bring about the production of pasture grasses, water, schools, markets, meat and milk processing, and where it can create a sub-sector of the economy. This is something that if done properly, will create a lot of jobs.”

When asked if it was right for the government to spend taxpayers’ money on what would benefit herders alone, Ngelzerma argued that crop farmers had similarly benefitted in the past.

However, in a swift reaction, the Office of the Vice-President denied being in charge of the implementation of the Ruga settlement initiative.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, said in a tweet on Friday that the programme being handled by Osinbajo was different from the one being referred to by Miyetti Allah.

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