The Federal Government had on Tuesday disclosed plans to establish Ruga settlements in some states, with a view to ending herdsmen-farmers’ clashes across the country.
The Ruga settlements, which had been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, and had started in 12 states, would allow herdsmen to stay in specific areas, where they could graze their animals.
“During the National Council on Agriculture summit which took place in Owerri, Imo State in April this year, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture attempted to impose Ruga settlement on the states but the Benue State delegation seized the opportunity to remind the summit that Benue State has a law on ranching which has phased out open grazing. No one at the summit put forth an alternative method of animal husbandry to counter the state’s presentation.
“The Government of Benue State is willing to support cattle owners to establish ranches as stipulated by the law prohibiting open grazing.
“We however wish to reiterate that Benue State has no land for grazing reserves, grazing routes, cattle colonies or Ruga settlements. The state only has land for the establishment of ranches.”
In Imo, the Special Adviser on Media to the state Governor, Steve Osuji, said that no governor in South-East would accept such a proposal.
He said, “Certainly not. It is not about Imo State; no state in the South-East would accept it. We won’t rush to accept it when no state in the North has implemented it.”
Also, the Special Adviser to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Mr Louis Amoke, said the state was in full support of the South-East Governors’ Forum position on cattle colony.
He said the region had “no land for cattle colony, Ruga settlement, or in whatever nomenclature it is called.”
“So the position of Enugu State Government is not different from the position of South-East Governors’ Forum.”
Similarly, Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Dan Abu, said, “We have a policy on this issue already which led to the enactment of the open grazing and ranches establishment law. This policy remains the best practice the world over in animal rearing.
“We implore the Federal Government to key into the ranching policy for the overall interest of herders and farmers. For now, we will not accept anything other than ranching,” he said.
Rejecting the move, the Onso state Commissioner for Information, Mr Yemi Olowolabi, said, “I am not aware of anything of such (Ruga settlement). However, we have made our position known about that. We have established cattle ranches at Auga Akoko and Akunnu Akoko for people to take their cattle to.
“So, rather than doing cattle rustling, the ranches were established for people to bring their cattle there. So, our position is that we don’t believe in creating anything of such, we already have our own ranches established, with the belief that the cattle there would be healthier and better.”