Governors of Ekiti and Benue state have faulted the Federal Government for their claim to have gazetted lands in the states for the purpose of Ruga settlement for herders.
More state governments have rejected the Ruga settlement plan for herders by the Federal government. The Governors have reassured their indigenes that nobody is going to take over their lands.
Major Nigerian Newspapers have more on these stories:
Punch Newspaper: Ruga settlements: South-East govs, Ortom tackle Presidency, Fayemi says no outsider can take Ekiti land
The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom; his counterparts in the South-East and the Ekiti State Government have faulted a claim by the Presidency that the Federal Government has gazetted land in all the 36 states of the federation.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, had in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, said that the Federal Government would not impose the Ruga herdsmen settlement on any state. He, however, said, “It is true that government at the centre has gazetted land in all the states of the federation.”
But Ortom, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, on Monday, challenged the Federal Government to show any proof of gazetted land in the state. He said, “We wish to make it clear that no land in Benue State has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements, contrary to the Presidency’s claim. “We expect the Federal Government to publicly tender documents of the claimed gazetted land in Benue State to put the matter to rest. “The Federal Government should show titles to the land it claims to have in Benue State, the evidence of compensation it paid to owners of such land, as well as the purpose for which the land was acquired. “The Benue State Government has already made known its stand on the Ruga settlements matter that the state will not be part of the project. “This was why the government and people of the state rejected the attempt to impose the Ruga settlement projects on them without the consent and approval of the governor who controls and administers the land in the state in trust for the people.”
Also the South -East Governors’ Forum said that Federal Government had no gazetted land in the zone for Ruga settlements, cattle colonies or any nomenclature it was given by the central government. The Chairman of the forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, who spoke with one of our correspondents on Monday, through his media aide, Mr Emma Uzo, said that Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Abia and Imo states had not given the Federal Government any land for Ruga settlements. “There is no gazzetted land for Ruga in Ebonyi State or any other state in the South -East zone. There is no gazetted land for any establishment of cattle ranch or colony. There is no part of Ebonyi or Igbo land that is designated for such a purpose by the Federal Government,” the governor said.
Guardian Newspaper: More states, groups reject Ruga settlements for herders
Vowing never to give up their land, more states and groups have rejected the plan by the Federal Government to settle Fulani herdsmen outside their communities nationwide. They consider the scheme a means of giving undue advantage to a private business.
Governor Kayode Fayemi yesterday assured Ekiti people that nobody coming from outside the state would be allowed to take over the land from them. He said non-indigenes wishing to do business in the state must respect the culture of the indigenous people and must pursue their interest in line with the laws of the land.
On his alleged plan to give Ekiti land to “outsiders” in exchange for future political ambition, Fayemi said: “Nobody is coming to take our land in Ekiti, the governor of Ekiti State has power over the land of Ekiti and it is the person that the governor gives land in Ekiti that can use the land of Ekiti. “If there are negative comments being peddled around that some people are coming to take over Ekiti land, it’s a mere hearsay. It cannot happen in Ekiti except I am no longer the governor and there is nobody that can be governor in Ekiti that will cede Ekiti land to outsiders because our land is not even enough for us.”
Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State said there was no plan to establish Ruga settlement in any part of the South-East and South-South zones. Umahi, who is the chairman of the South-East Governors Forum made the comment in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Emma Uzor, in Abakaliki.
He explained that though the South-East zone did propose a deal with members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) towards achieving lasting peace between farmers and herdsmen, there was no plan by governors in the zone to cede any part of their land for Ruga settlement. “There will be no part of the South-East that will be given out for the purpose of the establishment of Ruga settlement, the zone is purely agrarian with limited land mass for farming and therefore cannot accommodate Ruga establishment. “We actually proposed a deal with MACBAN to take their cattle to the northern parts where grazing reserves were established long time ago and relied completely on the grasses grown in the South for feeding of their cattle.”
The people of Cross River State and other parts of Niger Delta rejected the Ruga settlements policy and asked Governor Ben Ayade and other governors in the region to speak up on the matter for the sake of peace.
Sun Newspaper: Ekiti, Benue, Cross River join S’East in rejecting Ruga
There is no letup in the controversial Ruga Settlement programme being proposed by the Federal Government to arrest the intractable farmers-herders crisis across the country.
While Bauchi and Gombe have endorsed the proposal, Ekiti, Benue and Cross River states have joined the South East region in rejecting it.
This is even as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Arewa, Ohanaeze youths and others have weighed in on the contentious issue. The Presidency had on Sunday said the settlement will be in an organised 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.
The Ruga pilot projects are Sokoto, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Taraba, Katsina, Plateau, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger.
Apart from the South-East, Darius Ishaku (Taraba) and Ondo State government have also rejected the Ruga settlements, saying they would not give out their land for herdsmen’s settlements in their states.
But Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, who spoke to journalists, yesterday, after he met behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, to discuss pressing issues of the state including insecurity, said Bauchi was ready for Ruga settlement. To just his position, he said about 70 per cent of the population of the state were Fulani.
However, Benue State government restated its opposition to the programme. Governor Samuel Ortom, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said contrary to Presidency’s claim, no land in Benue State has been gazetted for grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colonies and Ruga settlements. Ortom who insisted that Benue has already made known its opposition to Ruga settlements matter, challenged the Federal Government to publicly tender documents of the claimed gazetted lands in Benue State to put the matter to rest.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe also revealed that the state has signed up for the establishment of Ruga in the state. The governor said he had engaged the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with a view to subscribing to the initiative. “We had a meeting with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry with a view of engaging them to make sure that while the Federal Government is being driven away and chastised in other states for embracing or deciding to help our native Fulani people who are mostly cattle rearers, we will engage and make sure that we provide all that they need to facilitate the take off of the Ruga programme in Gombe State,” Inuwa said.
But in Edo State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has vowed to go to court if Governor Godwin Obaseki failed to renege on his purported plans to cede parts of the state’s land for Ruga settlement.