CONTRARY to the impression that President Muhammadu Buhari suspended the controversial RUGA Model Settlement Project, it is learned that only unilateral implementation may have been put on hold.
The Federal Government appears dissatisfied with the unilateral implementation of the programme by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and not the programme itself.
In fact, the government plans to inaugurate an Implementation Committee of the National Livestock Transformation Programme, comprising representatives from National Economic Council, NEC, National Food Security Council, Federal Executive Council, FEC, and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, to fast track the project.
Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, in a memo with reference number, SH/COS/05/A/2393, dated July 2, conveyed the stand of government to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Abuja.
The memo read in part: “Mr President has directed the immediate suspension of the current unilateral implementation of the Ruga Model Settlement Programme by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, as it is not in accordance with the designs approved by NEC, NFSC, and FEC.”
The memo disclosed that an Implementation Committee of NEC, NFSC, and FEC “will be inaugurated in due course to oversee the delivery of the project.”
It was copied to the Vice President, Chairman, Governors Forum and other officials.
Federal Government had, last Thursday, announced that the heardsmen settlements project had been suspended.
The announcement followed the outrage generated especially in the Southern part of the country where it was generally believed that the scheme was a ploy to give their land to Fulani herdsmen.
The RUGA scheme has 12 pilot states in the North but Benue and Taraba listed among them opted out.
The controversy took a twist last week when some northern youths gave southern governors a 30-day ultimatum to accept the policy.
The youths received the backing of the Area Consultative Forum (ACF), yesterday when the ACF said it shared “the concern of the Coalition of the Northern Groups on the plight of genuine herdsmen in pursuit of their livelihood in some parts of the country”.
In a statement issued in Kaduna on the suspension of Ruga settlements in the country, the forum, however, called for restraint in taking actions that may be inimical to peace and stability.
The ACF, in the statement signed by Muhammad Ibrahim Biu, the Publicity Secretary, said: “Now that the Federal Government has put on hold the Ruga Settlement program, that it was inconsistent with the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) approved by the National Economic Council and moreover, the program was designed as voluntary for willing state governments, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) therefore urges all concerned to exercise restraint in taking actions that may be inimical to peace and stability in our polity.
“ACF also shares the concern of the Coalition of the Northern Groups on the plight of genuine herdsmen in pursuit of their livelihood in some parts of the country. ACF, therefore, appeals to government to institute measures that would ameliorate the suffering of not only herders but all those involved in the value chain of livestock production”.