Suspension of Ruga Settlement
Recently, the Federal Government introduced a measure aimed at putting an end to the farmers, herders clash with its plan to establish special settlements, Ruga, for herdsmen across the country.
As expected, the plan has generated controversy in the polity.
It has been greeted with outrage, especially in many of the states that have been on the receiving end of the herdsmen’s violent attacks, especially the middle belt and the southern states.
The Ruga, a settlement concept signifying an ethnic colony.
The settlement would secure land from willing states, build schools, clinics, houses and other infrastructure and settle the nomads there.
In defense of the scheme, the government stated that the overall benefit to the nation includes a drastic reduction in conflict between herders and farmers, a boost in animal production 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 government also noted that the settlements would not be an exclusive preserve of the herders, but open to all forms of animal husbandry.
The pilot phase of the project was to commence in Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Kaduna and seven other states.
The Federal Government, in establishing the settlements, has asked other ethnic groups in each of the thirty-six states of the federation to provide thirty-one thousand hectares of land for this purpose
This idea did not go down well with stakeholders, who have been calling for its stoppage.
It is heartwarming therefore that the government has suspended the Ruga settlement as a result of the rejection by people.
According to Ebonyi state governor Dave Umahi the suspension of the Ruga settlement plan was because of its lack of consistency with the National Executive Council, NEC and Federal Government approved national livestock transformation plan, which is programme to rehabilitate internally displaced persons, IDPS, resulting from the crisis and development of ranching in any willing state.
For Nigeria, the food and agricultural organisation says only forty -six percent of the country’s arable land is cultivated.
Nigeria should borrow a leaf from other countries faced with similar crisis by adopting realistic solutions.
For instance, strong measures to stamp out open grazing have been put in place in Ghana.
Also, Singapore’s founding leader, Lee Kuan Yew, introduced measures to stop open grazing that led to the modernisation of the country’s cattle industry.
Israel converted its dry land into fertile fields and is reputed to have the highest milk yield per cow through cutting edge technologies.
Hence, the solution lies in the determination of the northern states to embrace ranching and adopt modern techniques in husbandry.
The country cannot afford to lag behind in modern system of doing business that will be for the overall interest of the country.
Now that the ruga settlement has been suspended, it is the responsibility of government to find lasting solution that will be acceptable to the people towards addressing the farmer/herders clashes.
This is necessary to protect the lives and property of the citizens which they have sworn to.