President Buhari Suspends RUGA Settlement, Now Supports NEC Livestock Plan

The backlash from different groups against the proposed plan to build Ruga settlements has achieved some sort of result as the plan, which was approved in May 2019 has been suspended by President Buhari.

It would be recalled that the weeklong outcry from the Nigerian public led the office of the Presidency to release a media statement, denying cliams that the plan was a colonization plan.

The statement tried to reassure Nigerians that the proposed RUGA settlement would stop the roaming of cattle, and thus put an end to farmers/herders clashes.

The clashes so far, has recorded around 2,000 deaths and destruction of properties.
Though the media statement from the Presidency tried to defend the RUGA plan, it however failed to ease the various criticisms of the plan, which has led to the suspension of the plan.

The suspension was announced by Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, on Wednesday, after a meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) committee, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in Abuja.

He said, “We are aware today that Mr President has suspended the implementation of Ruga programme, initiated and being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, because it is not consistent with the NEC and Federal Government approved National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), which has programmes of rehabilitation of displaced IDPs, resulting from the crisis and also development of ranches in any willing state.

The Ruga settlements were set up to accommodate animal farmers, not just cattle herders, and provided with 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.

Sokoto, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Taraba, Katsina, Plateau, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger were listed as pilot states.

The presidency had called for leaders to not politicise the Ruga initiative in its Sunday statement, assuring the public that there is no plan to seize state land, colonise territory or impose Ruga on any part of the federation. However, many alleged that there were sinister ethnic motives behind the settlements, especially because President Buhari is Fulani.

Even though the conflict predates the 76-year-old, who was first inaugurated in 2015, his administration has received overwhelming flak as it’s widely believed that the situation has worsened, because the president is showing favour to the herders.

And due to those controversies, President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the Ruga Settlement’ Programme initiated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, and has instead adopted the National Economic Council (NEC)’s National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), which would be an all inclusive plan for states that were willing to key into the programme.

“We, the NEC Committee on Farmers/Herders Crisis, under the Chairmanship of the Vice President, met today to deliberate on the approved programme of of the NEC and Federal Government tagged, NLTP.

“We are aware that the president has suspended the implementation of `Ruga’ Programme initiated and being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources. This is because it is not consistent with the NEC and Federal Government’s approved NLTP.

“NLTP has programmes of rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), resulting from the crisis and also development of ranching in any willing state of the federation; the word is willing state of the federation. Its beauty is that what NEC and the Federal Government approved is a voluntary programme to all the 36 states, which may like to participate.

“So, it is not compulsory; it is for any state that is willing, will key into the programme,’’ he said. The governor stated further that states that are willing to accept the NEC programme, are expected to submit a development plan that is keyed towards the implementation in line with the Federal Government’s programme. And the plan should also be based on the challenge that the state had witnessed as a result of the farmers/herders clash.

Governors who were present at the meeting include, Governors of Kebbi, Plateau, the Deputy Governor of Adamawa State, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Secretary of the Technical Sub-Committee of Farmers/Herders Crisis.

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