AFENIFERE publicity secretary Yinka Odumakin has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of being one of the main promoters of the controversial Ruga cattle colony policy.
Over the last few weeks, the political temperature has risen in Nigeria after the government came out with the ill-thought out Ruga policy that would involve states handing their land over to Fulani cattle herdsmen to rear their livestock. Apart from the fact that to work, the policy would require the abrogation of the Land Use Act with vests land ownership with state governors, Ruga is also seen as a security threat.
Fulani cattle herdsmen have been guilty of murderous attacks on farming villages across Nigeria lately, carrying out violent assaults on farming communities that protest damage to their crops by livestock. As a result of the security threat these herdsmen pose, many states have vehemently said they would not make land available for Ruga settlements.
Asiwaju Tinubu has been notoriously silent on the matter, which political commentators find weird as he is normally a regular commentator on national affairs. Mr Odumakin, has given the reason for this, drawing the attention of Nigerians to Asiwaju Tinubu’s speech at a national summit on conflict resolution organised by The Nation and TV Continental with the theme, Towards an Enduring Peace.
According to Mr Odumakin, at the event which held at the Nigerian Air Force Centre, Abuja on October 8, 2018, Asiwaju Tinubu made it clear he is in favour of Ruga. He added that being one of the major pioneers of the scheme, Asiwaju Tinubu could not join other prominent Yoruba leaders in rejecting the Ruga programme.
Mr Odumakin added, at the event, Tinubu said: “The government must help herders gradually shift from their traditional nomadic existence to a more static lifestyle. We have to face the reality that modernity is making the nomadic way counterproductive and inefficient.
“Unoccupied, isolated land can quickly be turned into grazing areas in the affected states. In the long run, this will enable herders to better maintain their livestock and thus their own livelihood.”
Already Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, the Aare Oona Kakanfo Otunba Gani Adams, the Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi and other prominent Yoruba leaders have all condemned the scheme. In other parts of the country, local leaders have opposed the scheme bitterly too.
Mr Odumakin said: “It would be a waste of time to expect Tinubu to say anything on the Ruga matter. Don’t forget that in 2018, it was reported that he said all unused lands should be given to herdsmen for grazing. I spoke up then but he lambasted me.
“What we are witnessing today is a manifestation of what he said. So, how can he come out today to oppose Ruga? He advocated Ruga, so to expect Asiwaju to speak against Ruga is like expecting a shadow to shed tears. It will never happen.”