President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday doused tension by suspending the plan to settle Fulani herdsmen, Nigerians want more to be done. They want Buhari to cancel Ruga in its entirety.
The suspension was announced after a meeting between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and state governors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC) committee on farmers/herders crisis and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, told reporters: “Today, Mr. President has suspended the implementation of the Ruga programme, initiated and being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, because it is not consistent with the NEC and the Federal Government approved National Livestock Transformation plan, which has programmes of rehabilitation of displaced IDPs, resulting from the crisis and also development of ranches in any willing state of the federation. The word is ‘willing’ state of the federation.”
The suspension has, however, drawn criticism from some Nigerians who have maintained that the policy deserves outright cancellation.
“We do not want you to suspend Ruga, we want you to cancel it! Suspension means you are postponing the evil day, cancellation means it is never coming back. If you want peace in this country, Ruga must be cancelled and you must also cancel your Fulanisation and Islamisation policy,” said a former Minister of Aviation and opposition Peoples Democratic Party chieftain, Femi Fani-Kayode.
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) also asked the Buhari administration to abolish any plan to set up the settlement, saying the move, going by the Land Use Act of 1978, is selfish, unconstitutional and illegal.
Similarly, an Ibadan-based public affairs analyst, Angel Folosunso, described the freeze as “feebly fascinating”. According to him, “What should follow is to flush out all the diaspora Fulani out of Nigeria in order to quash the land-grabbing agenda of the internal colonisers hiding under the guise of resolving herder-farmer conflicts.
Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, commended the Federal Government for the suspension. President General Nnia Nwodo, in a statement by his special adviser on media, Emeka Attamah, said it was heartwarming that for the first time the leadership at the federal level deferred to people’s opinion on public issues.
He added: “The Federal Government should take immediate measures to disarm the Ak-47 trotting herders throughout the country. Government should carry out an audit of foreigners and ascertain those with genuine entry papers, deport those illegally in the country, and ensure that the nation’s borders are properly controlled and manned to avert further massive infiltration.”
Nevertheless, the group warned that it would continue to resist any moves to smuggle the policy through the backdoor, even as it cautioned southeast governors of an alleged plot to use acceptance of the scheme as a bait for an Igbo presidency in 2023.
“Ndigbo will not forgive any state governor, individual or community that may fall into the trap,” the group said.
Meanwhile, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has issued a 30-day ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the programme.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we advise federal authorities and southern leaders to heed the 30-day notice, failing which we would most definitely be left with no option but to consider resorting to our decisive line of action,” CNG spokesman, Mr. Abdulaziz Suleiman, told reporters in Abuja yesterday.