Controversy over Buhari's Ruga settlements, explained


A new plan by President Muhammadu Buhari to build Ruga settlements in some states in Nigeria has met with stiff opposition and considerable outrage from the public.

The presidency released a statement on Sunday, June 30, 2019 to assure the public that constructing Ruga settlements will stop roaming of cattle herders with the attendant clashes with farmers.
For years, nomadic herders have clashed with local farming communities over the access and control of lands. The wave of killings associated with this conflict skyrocketed last year with around 2,000 deaths recorded.
A majority of the attacks were blamed on the roaming herders, tagged invaders, who are usually, but not exclusively, of the Fulani extraction.
Even though the conflict predates Buhari, 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 as a result of sharing ethnicity with them.
On Tuesday, June 25, 2019, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Umar, announced the commencement of Ruga settlementsas a measure to end the conflict.
The former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, had disclosed in May that President Buhari approved the plan just a few weeks to the end of his first term.
 

Umar disclosed that the herders housed in the settlements will be provided water for their animals, pasture, schools for their children, security, agro-rangers, and so on.
The presidency similarly disclosed on Sunday that animal farmers, not just cattle herders, will be settled in Ruga settlements with provision of 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.
The presidency also assured Nigerians that Ruga settlements will be of benefit to everyone in animal husbandry and not just Fulani herders as widely reported in public discussions.
Crucially, when Umar made the tThese cooperatives will then be able to get rental agreements for land from state governments and also benefit from ranch resources on several terms including loans, grants, and subsidies.

The funding of the plan from the federal government and state governments is expected to last for the first three years in the pilot phase for a total of N70 billion while private sector interests and investments between the third and 10th year is expected to be in excess of N100 billion.
The General Secretary of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Baba Uthman Ngelzarma, also said during an interview last week that the Ruga model is a component part of the NLTP that is being implemented under the supervision of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who chairs NEC.
Outrage trailed Umar's announcement as old allegations of Buhari planning to Islamise and "Fulanise" the country started to resurface. Many said the settlements is the start of a grand plan for Fulani herders to establish themselves across the country with the help of the president.
More confusion followed when Osinbajo announced that the Ruga initiative has absolutely nothing to do with the NLTP and is not under the supervision of his office in any capacity.
Osinbajo's disclaimer further fueled the outrage over what many believe to be a plan with a sinister motive.
 he announcement last week, he said the Ruga initiative was part of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
NLTP is a N179 billion 10-year initiative (2018-2027) that champions ranching as the way forward for cattle rearing in the country.
The plan, presented by the National Economic Council (NEC) in June 2018, recommends that cattle herders are expected to be registered with cooperatives for the purpose of the ranching scheme.
Unlike the NLTP which was presented last year, there is no official document in the public domain that defines the full scope of the Ruga initiative, other than the Federal Government's brief statement about its benefits.
The mystery surrounding the initiative has paved the way for misinformation to define how it's discussed among commentators and concerned Nigerians.
It's also noteworthy that even though Osinbajo has distanced the NLTP from the Ruga initiative, there are peculiar similarities, from Umar's brief overview, that suggest the settlement idea is a direct strip of one of NLTP's six pillars.
The six pillars are economic investment; conflict resolution; law and order; humanitarian relief; information, education, and strategic communication; and crosscutting issues.
The NLTP's economic investment pillar focuses on supporting and strengthening the development of ranches in pilot states for improved productivity through breed improvement and pasture production.
This pillar focuses on building ranches in states that are willing to volunteer land, and appears to be where the Ruga initiative was directly derived.
One of the major objections to Ruga is the realisation that while it caters to the livelihood of cattle herders, it neglects farmers whom many believe to be the main victims of the conflict.
The humanitarian relief pillar of the NLTP, according to NEC, focuses on rebuilding and reconstructing common facilities - worship places, markets and individual homes that have been destroyed in the conflict.
It also focuses on rehabilitation, reconstruction, resettlement and compensation of the displaced persons affected by the conflict, and especially caters to providing input and land for crop farmers that have been displaced.
This pillar is clearly missing from the Ruga initiative, leading to concerns that the FG prioritises the business of cattle herders over farming communities that have been greatly devastated over the past few years. Many believe there won't be true peace if both sides of the conflict are not equally appeased, leading to concerns that building Ruga settlements in communities that are still aggrieved might worsen the crisis.
In his statement, Osinbajo noted that the NLTP is an ongoing process still standing on its own, but the acceleration of Ruga ahead of what appears to be a more comprehensive plan has left a bitter taste in the mouth for many concerned Nigerians.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, SokotoAdamawaNasarawaKadunaKogiTarabaKatsinaPlateauKebbiZamfara and Niger have shown interest in the Ruga initiative. The Bauchi State government also announced its intention to sign up on Monday, July 1.
However, Benue State, which was initially listed as a pilot state, despite its objections, has rejected the implementation of the initiative on its lands.
Despite the vocal objections, the Federal Government is committed to making the Ruga initiative a success because of its huge and far-reaching impact on public safety and national security.
In its Sunday statement, the government called for leaders to not politicise the Ruga initiative, assuring the public that there is no plan to seize state land, colonise territory or impose Ruga on any part of the federation.
The Buhari administration further urged states to join the Federal Government to make efforts towards finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
The government's efforts to appease the public hasn't done much to sway opinions as several individuals and groups are planning protests against the Ruga initiative calling for it to be strapped.
Source: PULSE-NG





1 comment:

  1. We don't have land for Ruga biko let the idea be scrapped.

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