The National Economic Council (NEC) headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has explained why the Federal Government decided to stop its planned establishment of Ruga settlements across the country.
The NEC, made up of state governors representing the six geo-political zones in the country, gave the explanation after a meeting at the presidential villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.
The National Food Security/Herders/Farmers Conflict committee set up by the council explained that the suspension was due to lack of consistency with the NEC and the federal government approved national Livestock Transformation Plan which also involves the establishment of ranches and a programme for the rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) arising from farmers/herders conflicts.
The NEC had said that the livestock initiative was not compulsory while states willing to implement it were required to come up with a development plan in line with the NEC policy.
Governor of Ebonyi state, Dave Unahi, read a statement after the meeting confirming the suspension.
His words: “We the NEC committee on farmers/ herders crisis under the chairmanship of HE Mr. Vice President met today to deliberate on the approved programme of National Economic Council (NEC) and Federal Government, tagged, ‘the National Livestock Transformation Programme’.
“We are aware that today that Mr. President has suspended the implementation of Ruga programme, initiated and being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, because it is not consistent with the NEC and 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 a willing state of the federation.
“The National Livestock Transformation plan, its beauty is that what NEC and FG 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, will key into the programme.
“Any state that is interested in this programme is required to bring up a development plan that is keyed towards the implementation in line with our own programme here that is unique to his state based on the challenges that he has in respect of the crisis. That’s the decision of this committee.”
Governors of Ebonyi, Dave Umahi; Plateau, Simon Lalong and Kebbi, Atiku Bagudu, were present at the closed door meeting.
It would be recalled that Vice President Osinbajo was recently said to be coordinating the controversial initiative, but he denied the claim theough a statement by his media aide, Laolu Akande.
Akande had explained: “The National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) 2019-2028 is a programme to be implemented in seven pilot states of Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara (as decided by NEC in January), being States in the frontlines of the Farmer-Herder crises. Afterwards, six other States have indicated readiness to also implement the plan. They are Katsina, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Ondo, and Edo states.
“The plan has six pillars through which it aims to transform the livestock production system in Nigeria along market-oriented value chain while ensuring an atmosphere of peace and justice.
“The six key pillars include: economic investment, conflict resolution, justice and peace, humanitarian relief and early recovery, human capital development and cross-cutting issues such as gender, youth, research and information and strategic communication.”