Ortom, Ishaku, Akeredolu, all South-East Governors rejects Federal Government proposed Ruga settlements for Fulani herdsmen

Fulani Herdsman

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, the Ondo State Government and all the five governors in South-East states, have vehemently rejected the proposal of the Federal Government to establish a settlement for Fulani herdsmen in their states.

President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the establishment of Ruga settlements which will stop open grazing and allow herdsmen to settle in specific areas to graze their cattle. The plan is to end the clashes between herdsmen and farmer across the country which had claimed thousands of lives and properties worth millions.

The proposed Ruga settlement had already kicked off in 12 states according to a statement by Mohammed Umar, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Mr. Umar spoke on the sidelines of the West Africa Antimicrobial Resistance Workshop organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in Abuja on Tuesday.

Read details on the proposed Ruga settlement below;

“The Ruga settlement is one of the very important things being done by the ministry and it is one of the best things that can happen not only to Nigeria but to most of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a concept that we developed to deal with internal security.

“We felt that to do away with herders-farmers’ conflict, we need to settle our nomads and those who breed animals. We want to put them in a place that has been developed as a settlement, where we provide water for their animals, pasture, schools for their children, security, agro-rangers, etc.”

“We also felt that we need to develop cattle markets whereby you don’t need to be transporting animals through very long distances. We will also bring in investors that will set up modern centres where cattle breeders can slaughter their animals. When we do that, a lot of other things will come up.

“We are going to change their lifestyle, take them away from our streets and from wandering in the bush and develop districts, hamlets and towns and definitely in the next five to 10 years you will never see a nomad moving about, wandering or kidnapping. And this will end all these security challenges.”

“We have already taken off. First of all, we are starting with about 12 states and we have identified the required locations. In each and every state we are going to have at least nothing less than six locations which we will start with and will settle these people along with other people that are interested in rearing animals.

“The Ruga settlement will attract a lot of investments to Nigeria and it is our belief that in the next five years, each Ruga settlement will provide nothing less than 2,000 employment opportunities. We are collaborating with the cattle breeders’ associations in Nigeria.”

“Already state and local governments are buying into the initiative. Many states have indicated interest. They have been coming to the ministry and will like to join to ensure that we set up Ruga settlements in their states so that their nomads will have a place. Also, they will have cattle markets and modern abattoirs in their states.”

However, some states have since officially rejected the establishment of Ruga settlement on their lands.

Governor Ortom in a statement through his aide, Terver Akase, said that his state has no land for any Ruga settlement. He further alleged that the settlement for Fulani herdsmen was imposed on states this year.

Ortom said that a director from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture led some team to Benue State to inform officials of the State Ministry of Agriculture that there is a directive from the head quarter to establish Ruga in 3 local government areas in the state (Otukpo, Tarka and Ukum).

“We find the approach of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture not only as a gross violation of the Ranching law but also as an insult to the sensibilities of the entire people of Benue State.

“During the National Council on Agriculture summit which took place in Owerri, Imo State in April this year, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture attempted to impose Ruga settlement on the states but the Benue State delegation seized the opportunity to remind the summit that Benue State has a law on ranching which has phased out open grazing. No one at the summit put forth an alternative method of animal husbandry to counter the state’s presentation.

“The Government of Benue State is willing to support cattle owners to establish ranches as stipulated by the law prohibiting open grazing.

“We however wish to reiterate that Benue State has no land for grazing reserves, grazing routes, cattle colonies or Ruga settlements. The state only has land for the establishment of ranches.”

Taraba and Ondo State Governments rejects Ruga settlement, says ranching is the only option

Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State has also rejected the establishment of Ruga on their land.

According to the governor in a statement issued through his aide, Dan Abu, ranching is the only option in resolving the herdsmen and farmers clashes.

“We have a policy on this issue already which led to the enactment of the open grazing and ranches establishment law. This policy remains the best practice the world over in animal rearing.

“We implore the Federal Government to key into the ranching policy for the overall interest of herders and farmers. For now, we will not accept anything other than ranching,” he said.

The Government of Ondo State said that it would not accept Ruga settlement because there are established ranches in the state.

“I am not aware of anything of such (Ruga settlement). However, we have made our position known about that. We have established cattle ranches at Auga Akoko and Akunnu Akoko for people to take their cattle to,” Yemi Olowolabi, the State commissioner of Information, said.

“So, rather than doing cattle rustling, the ranches were established for people to bring their cattle there. So, our position is that we don’t believe in creating anything of such, we already have our own ranches established, with the belief that the cattle there would be healthier and better,” he added.

South-East Governors rejects Ruga settlement

Also, the South-East Governors Forum has insisted on its position that it has no land for cattle colony, Ruga settlement or whatever name the federal government choose to call it.



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