Some states have rejected the Federal government’s Ruga Settlement initiative to wade into the herdmen-farmers crisis, saying that they have no land to release for the plan.
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom said Benue State had no land for the Federal Government proposed Ruga settlements for Fulani herdsmen.
Speaking through a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, he explained that Ruga settlement policy was imposed on states during the National Council on Agriculture summit held in Owerri, Imo State, in April this year by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
The governor further said the Benue State delegation reminded the summit that the state had a law on ranching which had phased out open grazing.
The statement added that a few weeks ago, a director of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture with his team in Benue State informed officials of the state Ministry of Agriculture that he had received directives from the Ministry’s headquarters Abuja to establish Ruga which means ‘Fulani settlement’ in parts of the state.
According to the statement, the director said three local government areas of the state: Otukpo, Tarka and Ukum had been selected for the Ruga settlements.
“We find the approach of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture not only as a gross violation of the Ranching law but also as an insult to the sensibilities of the entire people of Benue State.
“During the National Council on Agriculture summit which took place in Owerri, Imo State in April this year, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture attempted to impose Ruga settlement on the states but the Benue State delegation seized the opportunity to remind the summit that Benue State has a law on ranching which has phased out open grazing. No one at the summit put forth an alternative method of animal husbandry to counter the state’s presentation.
“The Government of Benue State is willing to support cattle owners to establish ranches as stipulated by the law prohibiting open grazing.
“We however wish to reiterate that Benue State has no land for grazing reserves, grazing routes, cattle colonies or Ruga settlements. The state only has land for the establishment of ranches.”
Imo State Governor
The Imo State Government said that it would not be part of the proposed Ruga settlements for Fulani herdsmen in all the states of the federation.
The Special Adviser on Media to the state Governor, Steve Osuji, told Punch in Owerri on Tuesday, that no governor in South-East would accept such a proposal.
He said the south-eastern states would not rush to accept the proposal when none of the northern states had implemented it.
He said, “Certainly not. It is not about Imo State; no state in the South-East would accept it. We won’t rush to accept it when no state in the North has implemented it.”
Enugu State On FG’s Ruga Settlement
On his Part, the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, speaking through his Special Adviser, Mr Louis Amoke, said the state was in full support of the South-East Governors’ Forum position on cattle colony.
Amoke added that the governors had made their position known that South-East had “no land for cattle colony, Ruga settlement, or in whatever nomenclature it is called.”
He added, “So the position of Enugu State Government is not different from the position of South-East Governors’ Forum.”
We ‘ll Accept Nothing Other Than Ranching – Taraba Govt
Similarly, Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Dan Abu, said the state would not accept anything except ranching.
Abu, who said ranching remained the best option in the resolution of the crisis, called on the Federal Government to key into the ranching policy as the best option in the resolution of the herders-farmers’ crisis.
“We have a policy on this issue already which led to the enactment of the open grazing and ranches establishment law. This policy remains the best practice the world over in animal rearing.
“We implore the Federal Government to key into the ranching policy for the overall interest of herders and farmers. For now, we will not accept anything other than ranching,” he said.
What Ondo State Government Thinks About Ruga Settlement
The Ondo State Government also rejected the ruga settlement noting that it had already established ranches in some parts of the state.
Speaking with Punch correspondent, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Yemi Olowolabi, said the ranches were established in Auga Akoko and Akunnu Akoko in the Akoko North-East Local Government Area of the state.
He said, “I am not aware of anything of such (Ruga settlement). However, we have made our position known about that. We have established cattle ranches at Auga Akoko and Akunnu Akoko for people to take their cattle to.
“So, rather than doing cattle rustling, the ranches were established for people to bring their cattle there. So, our position is that we don’t believe in creating anything of such, we already have our own ranches established, with the belief that the cattle there would be healthier and better.”