GOVERNORS of Nigeria’s 19 northern states have agreed to ditch the federal government’s controversial Ruga cattle colony programme and opt instead for the less volatile National Livestock Transformation Plan.
Earlier this year, the presidency had proposed Ruga under which state governments would be forced to give up land to allow for the establishment for cattle colonies. However, this plan was bitterly opposed as not only will it contravene the Land Use Act, which vests control of land with governors but there were also fears that it would allow armed Fulani herdsmen into the countryside.
Of late, heavily-armed Fulani herdsmen have carried out murderous attacks across Nigeria, killing thousands as they ransack villages with AK 47 assault rifles. With a majority of state governors saying they will oppose Ruga, the Northern Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NNGF) met over the matter yesterday and opted instead for the less controversial National Livestock Transformation Plan.
Following their meeting in Kaduna, the NNGF not only adopted the plan but also urged other governors in other parts of the country to follow suit. NNGF chairman, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, said the National Livestock Transformation Plan would ensure peace and stability in the region as well as resettle dislocated populations in the key conflict zones to enable them to become part of the agricultural modernisation process.
He added: “In the same vein, it will provide a mechanism for peaceful dialogue and reconciliation in the affected communities towards a harmonious mutually beneficial future. The forum therefore adopted the National Livestock Transformation Plan which lays out a clear path for modernising pastoral activities.
“The Northern states governors ‘forum convened an emergency meeting to discuss some topical issues of common interest, particularly development of the agricultural sector being the economic livewire of the region. The forum was well- informed about the National Livestock Transformation Plan and its disparities with the Ruga.
According to Governor Lalong, the plan will further encourage other states not included as pilot states to endeavour to join the programme. On insecurity, he expressed the forum’s unwavering determination to rescue the region and reposition it to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people, especially in the areas of security economic and social development
Governor Lalong added that it is expected that the plan would ensure resettling and addressing the dislocated populations in the key conflict zones to enable them to become part of the agricultural modernisation process. On the almajiri, he said, the forum was briefed on the phenomenon in northern Nigeria, which is not only endemic but also pandemic.