The Federal Government has stepped back from its plan to establish Ruga (cattle Fulani settlements) in parts of the country.
This follows a meeting between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and state governors representing the six geo-political zones of the country at the presidential villa, Abuja on Wednesday.
The meeting involved members of the National Food Security/Herders/Farmers Conflict committee set up by the National Economic Council (NEC).
The committee affirmed that the suspension was due to lack of consistency with the NEC and the federal government approved national Livestock Transformation Plan which also involves the establishment of ranches and a programme for the rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) arising from farmers/herders conflicts.
The NEC had said that the livestock initiative was not compulsory while states willing to implement it were required to come up with a development plan in line with the NEC policy.
Governor of Ebonyi state, Dave Unahi, read a statement after the meeting confirming the suspension.
He said: “We the NEC committee on farmers/ herders crisis under the chairmanship of HE Mr. Vice President met today to deliberate on the approved programme of National Economic Council (NEC) and Federal Government, tagged, ‘the National Livestock Transformation Programme’.
“We are aware that today that Mr. President has suspended the implementation of Ruga programme, initiated and being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, because it is not consistent with the NEC and 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 a willing state of the federation.
“The National Livestock Transformation plan, its beauty is that what NEC and FG approved is a voluntary programme to all the 36 states who may like to participate. So, it is not compulsory, it is for any state that is willing, will key into the programme.
“Any state that is interested in this programme is required to bring up a development plan that is keyed towards the implementation in line with our own programme here that is unique to his state based on the challenges that he has in respect of the crisis. That’s the decision of this committee.”
Also at Wednesday’s meeting which held behind closed doors were governors of Ebonyi, Dave Umahi; Plateau, Simon Lalong and Kebbi, Atiku Bagudu.
The Presidency had argued that the Ruga initiative was aimed at bringing lasting solutions to the farmers/herders clashes and also to create jobs.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in a recent statement had said that it was for states that were interested.
However, the office Vice President Osinbajo had been accused of coordinating the controversial initiative, an allegation that promptly denied.
His spokesman, Laolu Akande has said: “The National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) 2019-2028 is a programme to be implemented in seven pilot states of Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara (as decided by NEC in January), being States in the frontlines of the Farmer-Herder crises. Afterwards, six other States have indicated readiness to also implement the plan. They are Katsina, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Ondo, and Edo states.
“The plan has six pillars through which it aims to transform the livestock production system in Nigeria along market-oriented value chain while ensuring an atmosphere of peace and justice.
“The six key pillars include: economic investment, conflict resolution, justice and peace, humanitarian relief and early recovery, human capital development and cross-cutting issues such as gender, youth, research and information and strategic communication.”