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Ruga settlements undue favouritism for Fulani, says group

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Hausa-Fulani pastoralists move while their cattle grazing near some farms in the outskirts of Sokoto, Sokoto State, Nigeria, on April 22, 2019. – Massive expansion of farming in Nigeria has cut access to grazing land for nomadic herders and fuelled persistent violence. (Photo by Luis TATO / AFP)

Center for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged (Centrep), has said that the federal government’s Ruga settlements pilot programme could further escalate the already worsened herders and farmers’ crises across the federation.

The rights group noted that building Ruga settlements or cattle ranches with state resources in the 36 states showed undue favouritism for the Fulani over every other ethnic group in Nigeria.

Former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, had said the programme for herders would help end farmers/herders’ clashes nationwide and that herders would live and grow their cattle and produce milk in these settlements. A milking parlour will buy the milk, thus preventing their wives from moving about, he added.

But Centrep’s executive director, Oghenejabor Ikimi, said as beautiful as the programme may appear on paper, it is not a holistic approach to solving the famers/herders’ problem nationwide, but an attempt by the government to establish Fulani settlements across the 36 states.

He said many state governments rejected the programme out of deep-rooted resentment and suspicion that the entire exercise was a Fulani expansionist programme sponsored by the federal government and not as an antidote to the farmers/herders’ clashes nationwide.

“Nigerians are yet to come to terms on why the federal government, despite the above atrocities committed by some of these Fulani herders, is now using state resources to compulsorily acquire lands belonging to locals and farmers in setting up Ruga settlements for herders to live and grow their cattle.

“If we may ask, is cattle business in Nigeria now a state business? If the answer is a capital no, then the federal government has a moral burden to explain the above programme to Nigerians lucidly to assuage their deep resentment and suspicion for the programme.

“Practically speaking, if the federal government is sincere with her Ruga settlement programme, nothing stops her from setting up interventionist bodies through the state governments of origin of these Fulani herdsmen to build and fund these settlements for them in their various states of origin to live in and grow their cattle. The above would no doubt erase every deep-rooted suspicion Nigerians have for the said programme,” Ikimi said.


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