Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, has attributed the farmers/herdsmen crisis in the country to persons outside the country.
The governor during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, said “In most cases, the crisis is precipitated by those outside Nigeria. When there is a reprisal, it is not the Fulani man within Nigeria that cause it.
“It is that culture of getting revenge which is embedded in the tradition of the Fulani man that attracts reprisals from all over the place”.
When asked if Fulani herdsmen from outside the country will benefit from the Federal Government’s RUGA initiative aimed at addressing the farmers/herders clashes, the governor replied in the affirmative.
“It has to be done through sensitisation, telling them you have to buy into the project, and you use a language that seems to convince them,” the governor said.
Speaking about his administration’s agenda, the governor lamented that the previous administration looted the state’s treasury. He, therefore stated that he is working towards improving the standards of living of the people.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has received the report of the RUGA settlement committee, nearly 17 weeks after the committee was set up.
Receiving the report on Saturday, Governor Ganduje said although implementation in areas of security has since been in place, the committees report will assist the state government to fully implement the RUGA settlement programme.
According to the report, Kano state has all it takes to settle herdsmen from all over the country and neighbouring nations.
Meanwhile, Governor Ganduje argued that most of the crimes are not committed by the Fulani herdsmen, adding the the Fulanin herdsmen are always blamed due to their movement from one location to another for grazing.
“They are not criminals carrying AK 47 rifles, they are not poor either but herdsmen frustrated by the lack of adequate grazing reserves, this is why our government remains committed to providing lasting solutions to the alleged farmer/herders conflicts in some parts of the country”.
He stressed that the RUGA settlement programme must be given top priority to reduce the movement of the herders and their cattle towards the south.
On August 18, 2019, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje did set up a committee to identify areas where RUGA settlements and milk markets can be situated in Kano.
While submitting the report on Saturday, chairman of the committee, Mr Jibirilla Muhammad told the governor that Kano has all it takes to accommodate herdsmen from all parts of the country and beyond.
“Your excellency, we have identified Dangwauro as a suitable place for the milk market while Dansoshiya earth dam for grazing area, we equally have designed a master plan for houses and milk markets,” Mr Muhammad said.
Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, says his administration will implement its own version of the Ruga Settlement Scheme, although the project was suspended by the Federal Government.
He stated while hosting a delegation of Fulani leaders, associations, elders and Ardos from across the state that paid him a visit on Sunday in Lafia, the state capital.
Governor Sule noted that even the initial scheme put in place by President Muhammadu Buhari was voluntary, as there was no compulsion whatsoever to implement the project aimed at creating lasting peace between farmers and herdsmen in the country.
He added that while his colleagues heeded the advice to suspend the project, they agreed that they would embark on it in their various states.
The governor said, “Even though the Federal Government has suspended its Ruga project, some of us agreed to continue with the same project in our states, hoping that its advantage will become evident.”
He, however, denied claims that the suspended Federal Government Ruga settlement scheme was compulsory.
“Nobody brought Ruga project to me. I personally approached the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to learn more about the scheme and I was interested,” he added.
Governor Sule who said that there will not be any meaningful development without peace commended President Buhari for his efforts geared towards lasting peace across the country.
He also commended the Fulani leaders for the visit, stressing the need for peaceful coexistence between herdsmen and farmers.
The governor asked them to carry their people along, saying, “As leaders, you don’t have any justification to cause division among your followers.”
He also used the opportunity to call on youths to desist from criminal activities such as kidnapping and cattle rusting, urging them to go back to school in order to help in nation-building.
Earlier, leader of the delegation and Sarkin Fulani Dangi, Senator Walid Jibrin, said the purpose of the visit was to discuss with the governor about the Federal Government proposed Ruga programme for herdsmen, and the willingness of the Nasarawa State government to adopt the project.
Senator Jibrin, who also doubles as the Chairman of Ardos in Nasarawa State, commended the governor over his recent peace proposals to his Benue State counterpart, Governor Samuel Ortom, with a view to sustaining the existing peace in the two neighbouring states.
According to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) BoT Chairman, the visit would go a long way in resolving the lingering crisis involving herdsmen and farmers not only in the two states but across the country.
The Kano State Government has commenced plans to establish a RUGA settlement in the state.
This was disclosed by the Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, during the inauguration of a 16-man committee who are to identify critical areas of settling herdsmen across the state.
The committee, under the leadership of Mr Jibirilla Ahmed, is to also determine the type of social and infrastructure services that will be provided for the settlement.
“You are to determine the type of social service and infrastructure that will be provided for the RUGA settlement, using veterinary hospitals, clinics, water schools, markets, and also looking into the whole system.”
The governor tasked the committee to focus on the socio-economic part and not the socio-cultural offerings the initiative has offered over time.
“It is more of socio-cultural, rather than socio-economic and it has to change to socio-economic, otherwise, it will continue to be an uneconomic venture.
“So in Kano, having looked at all the issues concerned, both at the national and state level, we decided to create RUGA settlements in our forests that are existing and with the help of Islamic development bank, grazing areas will be provided.”
According to the statement, the governor said he believes in peaceful coexistence, inclusiveness as well as embracing all citizens be they, herders or farmers.
He also promised to support initiatives by the Federal Government towards ensuring peaceful coexistence between herders and farmers.
Sule also stressed the willingness of his administration to assist the government in providing initiatives aimed at fostering peace, as well as nurture harmonious relationship between herders and farmers.
A coalition of northern groups has issued a 30-day ultimatum to governors who are opposed to the RUGA settlement program to reconsider their decisions.
According to the spokesperson of the group, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the debate to accept or not to accept the program is already causing disaffection for herders who are of Fulani extraction.
“While we warn all state governments that stand against the implementation of the Ruga Initiative to desist and give peace a chance, we place President Buhari and the Federal Government on notice that they must completely stop this raging madness within 30-days beginning from today, Wednesday,” he said.
The Federal Government has suspended the planned Ruga Programme.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) on the farmers-herders crisis has confirmed the suspension of the program by the President.
According to the committee, the suspension is owing to lack of consistency with the NEC and FG approved national livestock transformation plan which has programs of rehabilitation of displaced IDPs resulting from the crisis and development of ranching in any willing state.
The NEC says it is not compulsory and any state interested is required to draw up a development plan towards the implementation in line with the NEC program based on the challenges inherent it.
Those at the meeting are governors of Ebonyi, Dave Umahi, Plateau, Simon Lalong and Kebbi, Atiku Bagudu.
The Ruga initiative has for some time been generating heated debates in various quarters with some arguing that it is a scheme by the government of the day to reposition the Fulani tribe.
However, the presidency has defended the controversial Ruga settlements programme saying that the initiative is for the benefit of all.
According to a statement released by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, the presidency said the programme is not a scheme to reposition the Fulani people, adding that no state has been forced to partake of the initiative.
The presidency’s statement partially reads: “The Presidency wishes to draw attention to recent unhelpful comments regarding the plan to stop roaming of cattle herders with the attendant clashes with farmers.
“Ruga Settlement” that seeks to settle migrant pastoral families simply means rural settlement in which animal farmers, not just cattle herders, will be settled in an organized place with provision of necessary and adequate basic amenities such as schools, hospitals, road networks, vet clinics, markets and manufacturing entities that will process and add value to meats and animal products.
Beneficiaries will include all persons in animal husbandry, not only Fulani herders.”
While lamenting that hundreds have been killed in farmer/herder clashes across the country, the Nobel Laureate blamed the situation on poor leadership.
“People are being killed in hundreds till today and it’s only because of the failure of the leadership at the critical time.
“The cattle rearers have been given a sense of impunity, they kill without any compunction, they drive farmers who are contributing to the food solution of the country (they drive them away), burn and eat their crops and then you come with RUGA?” he said.
His comments come 24 hours after the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, made some clarifications on the controversial plan.
In an interview on Channels TV’s News at 10, he stated that the plan was initiated in order to stop the roaming of cattle which had been met with incidents of clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
According to him, there is no difference between cattle ranching and the Ruga settlement plan and no state government has been coerced to be a part of it.