Christian leaders in Nigeria led by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev (Dr) Supo Ayokunle, have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to completely scrap Ruga Settlement idea.
The Christian leaders including; Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God; Rev. Benebo Fubara-Manuel, the President of the Christian Council of Nigeria; Dr. Napo Emuchey, the President of the Organisation of African Instituted Churches; Rev. Caleb Ahima, Vice President of CAN; Pastor Joseph Daramola, the Acting General Secretary of CAN; the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, and other Christian associations, made the call following a stakeholders summit themed, ‘RUGA: The Church’s Response in the 21st Century’.
The summit was held on Saturday at the ShepherdHill Baptist Church in Lagos.
CAN President while speaking at the summit noted that the involvement of the Christian leaders was needed as the association would not fold its arms and watch when the church was hurting very badly in the hands of Fulani herdsmen.
Speaking about Ruga, the CAN said; “we believe Ruga was just an unnecessary impediment in the wheel of the nation’s progress. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari that he must summon courage to go further by scrapping it completely.”
The President Muhammadu Buhari led government had few months ago proposed the Ruga herdsmen settlement idea as a solution to the clashes between farmers and herdsmen which has led to the death of thousands in the country especially in the Middle-Belt and Southern region.
Leaders in the Middle-Belt and Southern regions had vehemently rejected the Ruga idea which led to the suspension of the programme by President Buhari.
Rev. Ayokunle further revealed that investigations had shown that there was no nexus between Ruga and the National Livestock Transformation Programme.
“What we see is a surreptitious insertion and speedy implementation of selfishly concocted programme into a robust and holistically articulated national livestock transformation programme approved by the National Economic Council,” he said.
According to the CAN President the association made the decision after setting up a committee to dig deeper into the issue.
“Anything that smacks of mutual suspicion should be avoided in the interest of national unity. The Federal Government should immediately disarm and prosecute the Fulani herdsmen terrorists that have been recorded as one of the deadliest terrorists groups in the world.
“The group of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association which openly supported the activities of the murderous Fulani herdsmen be identified and banned immediately.
“President Buhari should suspend his membership and patronage of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association until he leaves office to reduce tension.”
The CAN President who further spoke to journalists noted that the herdsmen activities is totally embarrassing, adding that there is no free movement anymore.
“Enough is enough about insecurity in the country. It is totally embarrassing and people are having sleepless nights over it. There is no free movement anymore. Even military officers can no longer travel without heavy military escort; it is as bad as that. It is happening on a daily basis, it is no longer propaganda, neither is it political opposition talks.
“Our relatives are constantly being kidnapped and we are being compelled to look for money to pay ransoms. There are no other persons we can call upon than the government because that is why they are there. They should be able to mop up the guns which these criminals are using to threaten others and also arrest them.”
“Large expanse of land will be delineated and taken from indigenous people in all the 774 local government areas for use by Fulani herdsmen. The Federal Government will deep its hand into the commonwealth of the nation to develop this programme for the interest of just one out of the 250 ethnic nationalities in Nigeria contrary to the provisions of the constitution.
“As perceived, these settlements will over time metamorphose into politico-religious entities within host communities, thereby reconfiguring the political, religious and cultural status of the environment. This is capable of becoming a landmine for future crisis that will be to the advantage of the settlers. The situations in Plateau and Southern Kaduna are very instructive.
“The Ruga programme is a contradiction to the modern-day livestock production system that centres on ranching and feedlots.”
The CAN President further noted that their decision would be presented to the Federal Government for consideration.
“We are going to send our position to the Federal Government in black and white because we know that we are part and parcel of this nation and it is our own duty also to help government as the few of them in government cannot know everything. So, they should be prepared to listen.
“We have consulted experts, so government should be very brave in listening and meditating over recommendations coming from us because we are closer to the market people more than them and we are the ones that their policies have direct impact on. So, when they think they are helping us and we are feeling pains through this help, anyone in government should be wise enough to think twice before continuing with such a policy.
“We are convinced that Nigeria can operate a rancour-free agro-allied business where all stakeholders can contribute to the transformation of agriculture for the needed food sustenance of the nation and job creation, rather than the present situation where agriculture has become an avenue for cheap death for Nigerian citizens.”
Princess Ada is a Senior Content Creator and Head of Field Reporters at Naija Buzz News. She is a graduate of The Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa, Nasarawa State, where she studied Accounting before joining the media industry. She’s well experienced in Nigeria’s online media space. Ada previously worked as the Head of Business Operations at 1Push.Ng. She is a proud Igbo from Enugu State, South-East Nigeria.