While controversy continues to rage over the planned establishment of Ruga settlements for Fulani herdsmen across the country by the Federal Government, 11 states have reportedly accepted the plan.
A report by Saturday PUNCH revealed that the Federal Government is set to commence the pilot phase of the project in 11 states. They are: Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Kogi, Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger.
The newspaper quoted a senior officials of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development which is in charge of the initiative as saying that the Federal Government is determined to go ahead with the project, notwithstanding the public outcry, particularly in the South.
“Some of the governors came here and they promised to provide land because they have seen the benefits they will derive from the initiative. It is not that the Federal Government wants to invade the states, no!” he said.
The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mohammed Umar, described the Ruga settlement initiative as part of the solution to the violent crisis caused by herdsmen and their cattle that invade farming communities.
But it has emerged that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was in charge of another related project called the National Livestock Transformation Plan endorsed by the National Economic Council (NEC) which Osinbajo heads.
According to the Vice President’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, 13 states are already in the process of implementation of the plan which he said is geared towards transforming the livestock production system in Nigeria along market-oriented value chain while ensuring an atmosphere of peace and justice.
He listed the states as: Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Ondo and Edo.
“These states are at different stages in the process, but have indicated readiness to implement the plan.” he said. “Truth is: this Federal Government will not impose on any state government regarding its land”.
He explained that: “NEC okayed the plan based on the recommendation of a technical committee of the council chaired by Ebonyi State Governor (David) Umahi. Other governors on the committee and working group are those of Adamawa, Kaduna, Benue, Taraba, Edo, Plateau, Oyo and Zamfara-mostly the frontline states.”
The General Secretary of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Baba Ngelzarma, had on Friday claimed on Channels TV that the creation of the Ruga settlements for Fulani herdsmen was a component part of the livestock development and transformation plan being implemented under the Office of the Vice-President.
But Akande denied the claim saying the creation of Ruga settlements was completely different from the plan under Osinbajo’s management.
Ngelzarma’s claim had drawn ire against Osinbajo from the South where the Ruga settlement initiative is vehemently being opposed.