No peace unless herdsmen move freely —Northern group
•Insists on 30-day ultimatum to FG on Ruga •Attacks Ohanaeze, Afenifere •Why Nigeria needs Ruga —Miyetti Allah •FG must save Fulani from further harrassment —Northern Elders Forum
AGAINST the backdrop of the suspension of the controversial Ruga settlement project by the Federal Government, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has declared that there will be no peace in the country if herdsmen are not allowed to move freely in any part of the country.
The coalition, which had on Wednesday, given the Federal Government a 30-day ultimatum to rescind its suspension order and implement the Ruga initiative, also asserted that it was not afraid of the review of the “present union (referring to Nigeria) because what we have now is a collection of southerners and northerners, not Nigerians.”
The CNG told the government to implement the Ruga project or it would be forced to take a decisive action.
The Federal Government had suspended the programme on the grounds that it was not in tandem with the National Livestock Transformation Plan.
The spokesman of the CNG, Abdul Azeez Suleiman, in an interview with Saturday Tribune on Friday, said: “We are not withdrawing the ultimatum on the suspension of the programme by the government. You can’t deny some citizens their rights and think there will be peace in the country.”
On the recent call by the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Igbos to defend themselves against any threat from any quarters, Suleiman, who said members of the coalition were not afraid of arrest, described what he called the threats of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, as “selfish and wicked.”
He said: “I think the two bodies are selfish and wicked. We didn’t start this threat; they started it. First, it was Chief Gani Adams who we read saying he would lead one million Yoruba [warriors] to fish out herdsmen in the South-West.
“Ohanaeze also called on their people for self-defence. Did we issue any threat? We were just making our stand known on the issue of Ruga.
“Let them read our letter and see where we mentioned anything like that. Another person in the Niger Delta said the Fulani herdsmen would not be allowed in their area.
“Truly, to our chagrin, we have begun to see some of these threats being practicalised. Now, we have a video footage of some Igbos chasing herdsmen out of their states. We want to tell them that we are not afraid of them. We are not afraid of anybody.
“This union, Nigeria, as long as no one will be allowed to go and fend for himself in any part of the region, there will be no peace. We are not afraid of any review of the present union, because what we have now is a collection of southerners and northerners, not Nigerians.”
FG must save Fulani from further harrassment —Northern Elders Forum
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has also expressed disappointment over the manner the Ruga settlement programme was treated.
The Federal Government announced the suspension of the policy during the week.
NEF, in a statement signed by its deputy convener, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, said it would open discussion with the Northern Governors’ Forum and the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) to address what it called the harassment of the Fulani and their cattle.
While appealing to Northerners for restraint, it advised the Federal Government to show more concern to the rising threats to lives and economic assets and do everything to de-escalate tensions and distrust among Nigerians.
The statement reads in part: “The federal and state governments must adopt policies and positions which address the harassment of the Fulani and their cattle, de-escalation of inciting rhetoric and actions and short and long-term solutions to the problems which could damage the livestock industry, worsen community relations and threaten national security.
“The Northern Elders Forum has followed with keen interest the raging controversy since the Federal Government hinted at moves to introduce a certain Ruga scheme. NEF has taken note of the steps taken by the Federal Government as well as diverse positions adduced by groups and interests from the south and those from northern Nigeria.
“In particular, NEF has taken note of the representations made at a press conference held by the Coalition of Northern Groups on the latest developments in the worrying failure to find solutions to the problems related to management of the livestock assets of Nigerians, particularly cattle of the Fulani. The forum has also taken due notice of the intense reactions which the statement by the coalition generated across the country.”
The forum commended the leadership of the Northern Governors Forum led by the Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong and disclosed that it had since opened discussions with other stakeholders in the polity to calm frayed nerves and douse ethnic tension.
“The leadership of the NEF is being contacted by a broad spectrum of interests and opinions to use its position to calm nerves and assist in the search for a practical and fair resolution of the situation.
“Interestingly, NEF has also received the decent and statesmanlike reaction of the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, His Excellency, Governor Simon Bako Lalong, Plateau State, in which he disclosed the forum’s move to reach out to stakeholders in the matter, including the northern groups represented by CNG. NEF also acknowledges that the Northern Governors’ Forum chairman has also made similar overture to its leadership and a meeting has been fixed for next week,” it stated.
Why Nigeria need Ruga —Miyetti Allah
The Plateau State chapter of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) has stated that those opposing the establishment of Ruga settlement in the country are enemies of progress who want farmers and herders clashes to continue for their selfish interests.
It declared that no matter how loudly the oppositions cried, Nigeria must adopt Ruga to address the farmers/herders clashes.
The state chairman of the association, Malam Mohammed Nuru Abdulahi, who stated this in an interview in Jos, said the country needed Ruga settlement to halt the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers which have continued to claim lives in droves.
“We are in full support of the Ruga settlement but what I want the government to know is that it needs to be firm in its approach towards addressing farmers and herders’ clashes in the country. We are in support of any arrangement that would keep all the Fulani herdsmen together in one place. It can be Ruga, cattle colony or ranch. The controversies over these policies are unnecessary,” Abdulahi said.
He said the Ruga initiative, if adopted, would discourage the idea of roaming with cattle and encourage rural settlement of herders in an organised manner, where basic social amenities like schools, hospitals, road, veterinary clinics and markets would be provided for the herders.
“Beneficiaries will include all persons in animal husbandry, civil servants, contractors, feed producers and a host of others, not only Fulani herders. I want us to know that the Federal Government is planning this in order to curb open grazing of animals that continue to pose security threats to farmers and herders,” he added.
According to him, the overall benefit to the nation includes drastic reduction in conflicts between herders and farmers, a boost in animal protection with a value chain that will increase the quality and hygiene of livestock in terms of beef and milk production, access to animal care and private sector participation by way of investments.
He noted that what the Federal Government was planning was ranching (ruga) under the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), adding that the idea was not new and, therefore, deserved the corporation of all peaceful Nigerians.
The MACBAN chairman said those opposing ranching or Ruga could not justify their positions but were looking at it from parochial and selfish angle, adding that no matter how loudly they cry, the country must have ranching as a way of addressing the clashes across the country.