The Presidency has accused some state governors of misleading Nigerians about its Ruga settlement initiative.
In a statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, on Sunday, the Presidency defended the initiative, saying it was catering for the interest of all those involved in animal husbandry and not Fulani herdsmen alone.
It explained that the main purpose of the settlement was to curb open grazing and abate the escalating crisis between farmers and herders across the country.
The statement read: “’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.
“The Federal Government is planning this in order to curb open grazing of animals that continue to pose security threats to farmers and herders.
“The overall benefit to the nation includes a drastic reduction in conflicts between herders and farmers, a boost in animal protection complete with a value chain that will increase the quality and hygiene of livestock in terms of beef and milk production, increased quality of feeding and access to animal care and private sector participation in commercial pasture production by way of investments.”
The statement noted that 12 states have indicated interest in the initiative and have applied to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to provide lands for the settlement.
The Presidency stated that contrary to the comment of some governors, the Federal Government is not attempting to forcefully grab any land from state governments for the Ruga settlement.
Admitting that it had earmarked potential settlement areas across all the states of the federation, the Federal Government, however, insisted that the Ruga initiative is voluntary.
“Stripped of the politics and howling that has attended the recent comments, there is no government plan to seize state land, colonise territory or impose Ruga on any part of the federation. Government has made it clear time and again that the programme is voluntary.
“Unfortunately, some state governments that have not signified interest in the scheme and, therefore, are not on the invitation list, have been misleading people that the Federal Government is embarking on a scheme to take away their lands.
“Mostly, these are state leaders that have no explanation to offer their people for continued non-payment of workers’ salaries.”
The Presidency urged state governments yet to sign up for the initiative to cooperate with the Federal Government in order to find a lasting solution to the farmers/herders clashes.