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THE TRUE MEANING OF RUGA

IT’s a monumental tragedy for Nigeria that our conversations in the last four years have mostly been about barbarism. At a time when even some African countries are making advancement in different areas of human endeavour, we have been bogged down with Miyetti Allah, cattle routes and grazing reserves.

The herdsmen have become a serious menace in recent time and we have in the process lost thousands of precious lives in the hands of terrorists who use cattle as cover to inflict maximum harm on various communities in Nigeria. The fundamental essence of law and order has lost its meaning in the country as these marauders have somehow been elevated above the law.

The quality of life has gone down drastically for millions of our citizens in the last four years to the point that we are now the global headquarters of poverty. Yet, there has not been any coordinated effort to resuscitate the economy, making it appear that poverty has become the new weapon of social engineering in the country.

Nefarious activities

Lately, herdsmen have taken their nefarious activities to the next level as they now kidnap citizens for ransom across the country and in the process making many roads unsafe for road users. The governable space in Nigeria is shrinking and we are daily looking like a failed state.

It’s now one month and three days that President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in for a second term and there is no cabinet in place. The only appearances of government that we see are measures that remove faith in corporate Nigeria like the Fulani Radio and negotiation with Miyetti Allah.

The latest is the Ruga settlement that has polarised the country and made it more divided than it was before amalgamation. The brazen audacity of coming up with a project in Hausa word is the crudest assault on inclusivity in a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria.

Ruga is a Hausa term that means cow settlement. The in-your-face attitude in coming up with this concept is a summation of all that is wrong with Nigeria being elevated under this administration.

To start with, the very idea of the Ministry of Agriculture is a misnomer in a federal system with so much diversity like Nigeria. The only land that belongs to the Federal Government in Nigeria is the Federal Capital Territory which makes the Ministry just a money-siphoning entity given the amount we vote for it yearly. And since independence, most of our agriculture ministers have been from a section of the country, except for some exceptions which may explain why many of its operations have been sectional.

Not many Nigerians would know that the FADAMA programme the ministry had executed over the years is from a Hausa word for irrigation copied from Ancient Egypt’s shadoofs involving the use of water wheels. The water wheels worked the shadoofs. A shadoof was simply a counterweight system, a long pole with a bucket on one end and a weight on the other. Buckets were dropped into the Nile, filled with water, and raised with water wheels. Then oxen swung the pole so that the water could be emptied into narrow canals or waterways that were used to irrigate the crops.

Other nationalities never bothered to find out the meaning of the term because there was not the kind of loss of faith the polity has suffered in the last four years.

Ruga has, therefore, become the height of the impunity that has been carried on for many years now. And it shows clearly the absence of sensitivity on the part of leadership to bring this up at this time.

No matter how it is dressed, Ruga connotes no other thing than a measure in ethnic domination and conquest as it seeks to create territories for Fulani people all over the country. This is not about cattle in any way. The truth of the matter is that the Fulani hardly eat cow meat as they know it’s not healthy for human consumption. They are more at home with lean meat. There are reasons why they hardly eat cow meat, some of which are:

  • Reason 1: Red meat may increase Alzheimer’s disease risk. …
  • Reason 2: Red meat can cause cardiovascular disease. …
  • Reason 3: Your risk of colon cancer goes up with your red meat consumption. …
  • Reason 4: Too much beef leads to Type 2 Diabetes. …
  • Reason 5: Mad cow disease. …
  • Reason 6:  Meat just ain’t what it used to be.

There is, therefore, no way the Ruga settlements project is going to sell as it smacks only a desire for land-grabbing, domination and conquest. The statement put out by Garba Shehu on Sunday night is just a waste of time as it said nothing convincing. It is not a hidden fact that Fulani is the only group that are herders in Nigeria. Even Hausa have nothing to do with cow breeding and their involvement with cows only have to do with selling cow meat and Suya.

There can, therefore, be no convincing reason why the Federal Government would make cattle business a national affair the way it’s being done presently if there was no hidden agenda.

The rest of Nigeria is aware of how the Fulani used subtlety to corner Hausa land under the guise of introducing pure Islam to them. The Hausas bought this and some communities killed their own kings to have Fulani Emirs. That was how Fulani became domineering in all Hausa territories even when they did not build a single town or city in the land.

It was after they finished with Hausa that they faced the Kanuri who resisted them, asserting that they knew Islam before them.

It was after they hit the wall with the Kanuri that they faced Ilorin and marching towards the heart of Yoruba land before its warriors stopped them in their tracks. Cattle are now seen as the guise to penetrate the rest of Nigeria in the manner religion was used to take over Hausa territories.

If there is still some sense of patriotism and care for the well-being of Nigeria as a polity, the administration must quickly perish this thought, allow those in the cattle business to run their affairs and face the serious issue of governance.

We risk overheating the polity and creating unmeasurable tension if this wrong-headed idea is not shelved.

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