By Suleiman Umaru
Those who think that President Muhammadu Buhari has finally suspended the Ruga settlement Project initiated by his government last year which the ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was saddled with the responsibility of overseeing would be disappointed. This is because the Katsina born Nigerian President was still bent on implementing the programme which, political watchers believe remain a top priority of the Administration within the next four years.
A document cited by The Value News
The NEC, which is currently Chaired by Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President and the NFSC, chaired by Abubakar Atiku Bagudu . The two groups were said to have been mandated by the President to work out an arrangement for the smooth take off of the implementation of the programme in the country without any hitch. They were said to have settled down for work immediately as directed by the President leading to the final report on the NLTP.
The memo which was said to have been copied to the office of the Vice President; Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti state, in his Capacity as the Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum, NG; Bagudu, Chairman NFSC and Boss Mustapha, Secretary to Government of the Federation . Kyari ,may have copied the top government functionaries the memo to keep them informed of the latest decision on the programme by the President .
Political watchers believe that the Chief of Staff Statement suspending the unilateral implementation of the Project which was at the instance of the President was basically to calm frayed nerves in different parts of the country. Note that the Ohaneze Ndigbo, Afenifenifere, and the Middle Belt Forum, all socio-cultural Organisations in the South east, south west and north central respectively, had been at the vanguard working for the non realisation of the programme in their respective regions. The groups had seen it as an expansionist programme of the Fulanis Islimisation agenda over the years. despite the Constitutional provision that Nigeria is a secular state.
Political Observers believe that the Chief of Staff memo was a clear confirmation of people’s fear of the Buhari Administration’s plan to implement the hidden agenda of alleged Isilimisation of the country through the Ruga Settlement project. Recall that in the 2019 bugetary provision, the government had made an allocation of over N26 billion for the development of the national grazing reserves across the country which was said to have been built into the budget of the Supervising ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Note, that the government had daggled enticing carrots before the state governors to force them to accept the implementation of the Ruga Project in their respective states. The presidency were said to have listed the provision of basic social amenities with complete Sanitary facilities such as Schools, Hospitals, Road networks, Vet nary Clinics, meat Markets and Manufacturing entities that will process and add value to the meats and the animal products.
Between last year and now, no fewer than 13 states were said to have keyed into the Project. they are: Adamawa, plateau, Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi, Gombe, Niger and Kogi states. Benue and Tarabs states, which were initially listed as having accepted by the Ruga Settlement Programme had denied it. Babagana Umara Zulum, a professor and governor of borno state, may have made a mockery of the programme when he was said to given the government the Sambisa forest to use for the Ruga Settlement Project.
Zulum may have had it at the back of his mind that the government would not take the Sambisa for such a multimillion project because of the activities of the Islamic Funadamentalists, BokoHaram, and the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, in the forest. Many believe that the Borno state govrnnor has clearly sent a message to to the Presidency that the state was not ready for the Ruga Settlement Project.
Political watchers believe that since the plan of the Buhari Administration to implement the Ruga Settlement Project in Benue and Taraba, appears to have hit the rocks because of the strong opposition of the people with backing of their respective state gvernors, particular, Samuel Ortom of Benue state, the Presidency nd the ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development officials may have gone back to the drawing board to see how to get the states to accept the programme.
The Presidency, according to sources, believes that the two states needed the Ruga Settlement project much more than any other state because of the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers which led to the death of thousands of people. An indigene of Tomata Community in Guma Local government Area of Benue stateo told The Magazine that they would prefer to die than give any inch of the land for the Ruga Settlement Project even if Ortom, the state governor succumbs to the Presidency blackmail to accept it to be implemented in the state. Indeed this is the thinking of the people of Benue state in general. Many believe that the people of the state have been radicalised with the government Ruga Settlement pet project as they speak with one voice: NO to Ruga Settlement Project.
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