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Igala indigenes reject FG’s plan to revisit RUGA in Kogi

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Fulani Herdsmen. PHOTO: Issouf Sanogo (AFP/File)

PFN seeks restructuring to end farmers’, herders’ crisis
Igala indigenes in Kogi East Senatorial District have rejected Federal Government’s suspended grazing reserves, otherwise known as Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA) settlements earlier proposed for Fulani herdsmen across the country.

The Igala leaders took the decision in Kaduna during the inauguration of Ukomu Igala, a socio-cultural organisation for people of Igala descent.

Speaking, a founding member of the organisation and elder statesman, Samuel Salifu, said in the next 30 years, Igala population would have redoubled with little or no land to accommodate its people.

“If we accept Ruga in the eastern area, there will be no space for future generations as cattle would have replaced human beings and taken over available land for cultivation,” he said.

He said promoters of the programme have been knocking on doors at Abejukolo, lyade, Ayede and Ogane Inugu towns.

“The present population of Igala Land (Kogi East) is about 2.6 million up from 1.7 million in 2006. By 2050, its population will be about 9 million from a projected Nigerian Population of 450 million and in another 80 years (2100 AD) Igala population would reach 9.5 million.

“Ruga is about carving out areas equivalent of a local government area in every state to accommodate Fulani cattle breeders.

“Ukomu Igala had already rejected cattle colony and the Igala people are saying no to Ruga. The space we have is for us and our children, not for Fulani cows,” he added.

He explained that herdsmen were nomads, while the Igala people were not, adding that within 10 years between 2008 and 2018, its population increased by 755,000.

Salifu urged the Kogi State Government to know its limits on the kind of federal policies it imposes on the people, adding that as things stand, it was still difficult to know who was funding the Ruga initiative.

Meanwhile, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) yesterday enjoined Nigerians to advocate urgent restructuring of the country to end farmers and herders clashes in country.

PFN expressed concern at the 30-day ultimatum given to the Federal Government by a Northern group, whose spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman threatened violence if the suspension of the Ruga project was not reversed.

Its General Secretary, Apostle Emmanuel Nuhu Kure in a statement accused the Federal Government of being insensitive to the plight of Nigerians.

The Christian body urged the Federal Government to handle the issue responsibly and expressed his dissatisfaction with the way government was handling what he described as ill-advised and unpopular plan to settle Fulani herders in federally secured lands across the country through Ruga.


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