Nigerians want Buhari to cancel, not suspend Ruga
The suspension was announced after a meeting between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and state governors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC) committee on farmers/herders crisis and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, told reporters: “Today, Mr. President has suspended the implementation of the Ruga programme, initiated and being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, because it is not consistent with the NEC and the Federal Government approved National Livestock Transformation plan, which has programmes of rehabilitation of displaced IDPs, resulting from the crisis and also development of ranches in any willing state of the federation. The word is ‘willing’ state of the federation.”
He explained: “The beauty of the National Livestock Transformation plan is that what NEC and the Federal Government approved is a voluntary programme to all the 36 states who may like to participate. So, it is not compulsory, it is for any state that is willing to key into the programme.”
The suspension has, however, drawn criticism from some Nigerians who have maintained that the policy deserves outright cancellation.
“We do not want you to suspend Ruga, we want you to cancel it! Suspension means you are postponing the evil day, cancellation means it is never coming back. If you want peace in this country, Ruga must be cancelled and you must also cancel your Fulanisation and Islamisation policy,” said a former Minister of Aviation and opposition Peoples Democratic Party chieftain, Femi Fani-Kayode.
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) also asked the Buhari administration to abolish any plan to set up the settlement, saying the move, going by the Land Use Act of 1978, is selfish, unconstitutional and illegal.
Similarly, an Ibadan-based public affairs analyst, Angel Folosunso, described the freeze as “feebly fascinating”. According to him, “What should follow is to flush out all the diaspora Fulani out of Nigeria in order to quash the land-grabbing agenda of the internal colonisers hiding under the guise of resolving herder-farmer conflicts.
“The All Progressives Congress (APC)-led regime is extremely insensitive to the plight of the masses. How on earth in a terror-stricken nation should foreigners or aliens be allowed to invade Nigeria to destroy and conquer the land? Fulanisation agenda will attract civil war or secession bids in a federal system.”
But apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, commended the Federal Government for the suspension. President General Nnia Nwodo, in a statement by his special adviser on media, Emeka Attamah, said it was heartwarming that for the first time the leadership at the federal level deferred to people’s opinion on public issues.
He added: “The Federal Government should take immediate measures to disarm the Ak-47 trotting herders throughout the country. Government should carry out an audit of foreigners and ascertain those with genuine entry papers, deport those illegally in the country, and ensure that the nation’s borders are properly controlled and manned to avert further massive infiltration.”
Nevertheless, the group warned that it would continue to resist any moves to smuggle the policy through the backdoor, even as it cautioned southeast governors of an alleged plot to use acceptance of the scheme as a bait for an Igbo presidency in 2023.
“Ndigbo will not forgive any state governor, individual or community that may fall into the trap,” the group said.
Meanwhile, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has issued a 30-day ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the programme.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we advise federal authorities and southern leaders to heed the 30-day notice, failing which we would most definitely be left with no option but to consider resorting to our decisive line of action,” CNG spokesman, Mr. Abdulaziz Suleiman, told reporters in Abuja yesterday.
Urging all CNG chapters, affiliates and northern indigenes to remain calm and resolute, he said it behoved Buhari to implement the policy within the period and halt the “raging madness” on the issue.
He warned state governors opposed to the policy to back down in the interest of peace and called on security agencies to checkmate inflammatory remarks by southern leaders.
The gang-up against Fulani herdsmen by Nigerians of southern extraction has further reinforced the need for a referendum to determine the continuous existence of the country, he said.
“The South-South has for long agitated for the Republic of Niger Delta, which leaves the North as the only region that has not advocated the breakup of the country at the slightest of pretences.
“Recall that we also decried the impractical and unacceptable trend of certain Nigerian tribes being accorded the opportunity to enjoy more basic rights while other tribes are denied the same.
“And as we appropriately foretold, the Fulani are today singled out for profiling and denied access to ordinary grazing lands and the right of thoroughfare in the South, and are being hunted, expelled or slaughtered while southerners are comfortably hosted in northern cities and towns.”
But the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) described the ultimatum as “sponsored”, saying it would fail because it does not represent the interest of the northern region.
The national leader of the group, Uchenna Madu, told The Guardian: “Forceful establishment of Ruga settlements across the nation is the final onslaught against the entire nation. The settlements will act as the platform for the close range domination, terrorising, Islamisation and religious killing of the natives. The implementation of Ruga will therefore never see daylight in Biafra land.”