A political party, the United Patriots, has faulted ongoing efforts by the Federal Government to establish Ruga settlements across the country.
It said it was worrisome that the government could place priority on the welfare of cows as opposed to the pressing needs of Nigerians like regular power supply, better infrastructure, improved health care services and employment generation.
It said it was absurd for a government to take over the responsibility of herding in a country bedevilled by crimes.
The party’s National Chairman, Chukwudi Ezeobika, stated this in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Sunday.
Ezeobika said it was shameful for a country like Nigeria to have focused, since the inauguration of the current President, on issues of ranches and Ruga settlements across the country.
He added, “The brazen and glaring impunity with which the current APC government under President Muhammadu Buhari has promoted inequality, discord and disunity amongst Nigerians, as could be seen in the preponderance of the Fulani people at the corridors of power, clearly shows the level of insensitivity and contempt of the current administration, as security bodies and other agencies of the government remain dominated by people of same faith and ethnicity.
“Having emerged from an election, adjudged by both foreign and domestic observers as well as key stakeholders in the Nigerian electoral process, as the worst election in recent history, it is indeed not surprising that the current administration could place priority on the welfare and administration of cows and cattle as opposed to the yearnings of the Nigerian people on epileptic power supplies, decaying infrastructure and inadequate health care services as well as the unprecedented level of unemployment amongst the Nigerian youths.
“Even as the country lies idle, months after the 2019 general elections, and without ministerial appointments, the sudden and vicious attention accorded the Ruga settlement, spearheaded by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, calls for serious concerns to all well-meaning Nigerians.”
Ezeobika said it was a primordial conception to be talking of moving cows from one place to another in the 21st century.
“It is further absurd for a government to take over the responsibility of herding in a country that is bedevilled with crimes and criminality as a result of the activities of Fulani herdsmen.
“Nigerians must rise up to challenge this illegal and immoral imposition which has the tendency to cause more conflict in our rural areas with attendant results of increased rape, murder and annexation of lawfully inherited and acquired lands across the federation,” he said.
Ruga, attempt to resettle terrorist herdsmen –MBF, SMBLF
In their reactions, the Middle Belt Forum and the Southern Middle Belt Leaders Forum described the Ruga Settlement project as a plot by the Federal Government to resettle terrorist herdsmen in the middle belt region and other parts of the country.
The MBF National Publicity Secretary, Dr Isuwa Dogo, stated that the programme would precipitate grave humanitarian crisis in the affected areas if the FG went ahead with its plan.
Dogo, in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, insisted that the programme was part of the plot to “import criminal Fulani from within and neighbouring countries to settle them in our communities in order to change the demography for political, social and economic advantage in pursuit of the much talked about ‘Fulanisation’ agenda of the present administration.”
The statement read, “Going by the insistence of the Federal Government to forcefully establish these Ruga settlements, it suggests to us that the government is on a mission to settle criminal terrorist herdsmen that are behind the incessant invasions of our communities and displacing our people from their ancestral lands, thereby precipitating grave humanitarian crisis situation in the affected areas.”
In its reaction, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum alleged that the project was being pushed to achieve ethnic domination by the Fulani in the country.
It described the idea as repugnant and provocative “as it seeks to colonise the rest of Nigeria under the guise of promoting cattle rearing.”
The forum said this in a statement in Abuja on Sunday signed by Yinka Odumakin (South West), Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South South) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt).
The statement read, “SMBLF was in Benue in January, 2018 where over 73 people were killed in one day by the Fulani herdsmen and then in our various communities in the last four years through the shedding of innocent blood by the marauders.
“We challenge the Federal Government to tell us any court in the country where any herdsman is being tried today for all the killings, kidnappings, raping of women and destruction of farmland they have carried out against innocent citizens.
“As if the sinful silence of the government is not enough, it has now decided on a provocative measure to secure territories for them in all the 36 states of the Federation.”
The SMBLF warned the FG against going ahead with its plan, noting that all land in each state is vested in the governor.
Reps fault plan
When approached for their personal reactions, some members of the House of Representatives faulted the Federal Government.
The lawmakers, who spoke to our correspondent in separate interviews on Saturday, expressed their reservations about the project.
A Rep, Mr Nicholas Ossai from Delta State said the programme should be limited to the North.
Ossai said, “They (Hausa/Fulani) are not indigenous to the South and the way of life of southerners is different. The Federal Government should establish modular refineries in the Niger Delta, which is indigenous to them; establish something like plantain farming and others like fish farming in the South-South. Go to the South-East and establish palm trees, peas, avocados, oranges; establish those ones for the people of the East.”
Mr Abdurazak Namdas from Adamawa State said, “It is good to have ranches in the first place but as you know, states have their own laws. There is nothing wrong with collaborating with the state governments on how best it can be done. Some of these states have their various laws. I believe there is the need for the Federal Government to consult the state governors.”
Benue group threatens to sue FG
To demonstrate its opposition to the settlement plan, the OnTiv Professionals Association, an association of Tiv Professionals practising in the Federal Capital Territory, has threatened to file a suit against the government if it fails to stop the plan.