PRESIDENCY officials have urged members of the public to ignore the recent the 30 day ultimatum given by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) asking the federal government to reverse its plans to scrap the controversial Ruga settlement programme.
Earlier this week, the CNG gave the federal government a 30-day ultimatum to begin implementing a Ruga settlement programme that would force state governors to hand over their land to Fulani cattle herdsmen. This was in response to a decision by the federal government to abandon the programme in the midst of fierce opposition to it from across the country as ill-thought and unworkable.
Nigeria’s Land Use Act vests the control of land in the 36 state governors, so before the federal government can embark on any project, it needs the state government to grant it land. Despite the federal abandoning the scheme, the CNG decided to heat up the political temperature by issuing an ultimatum that the decision be reversed.
However, presidency officials have urged Nigerians to ignore the threat and have advised the CNG to respect the office of the president which took the decision in the national interest. Dr Andrew Kwasari, the senior policy adviser on agriculture interventions coordination in the office of the vice president, said that the federal government’s National Livestock Transformation would continue instead.
He clarified the government’s position in Abuja during a training session organised for the executives of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban) and its officers in eight states considered to be flashpoints. This training programme, which was jointly organised by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, was themed Dialogue and Negotiations: Why, when and how to be effective.
Dr Kwasari said: “The National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) has not been suspended. In fact, it has been enhanced because Mr President, in his wisdom, has spoken and directed that this is the plan that we should be working around to implement.
“We will need an all-encompassing committee of the National Economic Council, the National Food Security Council, and the Federal Executive Council working together to deliver this plan. For us, this is the type of leadership that the country needs, so, there is no mention of suspension whatsoever for the NLTP.”
Asked if he would demand the arrest of the CNG leaders, Dr Kwasari said he was sure that the security architecture of the country had taken a strong stance against hate speech and divisive rhetoric. He added that President Buhari has the overwhelming support of the country on this matter and his decision has resonated with the majority of Nigerians.
“The president took the decision to suspend the Ruga policy in the interest and common good of all Nigerians. Are we supposed to be concerned about rallying around the president who has taken a decision or a portion of society that feels otherwise for whatsoever reason?”
Macban’s national secretary Baba Othman Ngelzarma, added: By training them, their capacity to mitigate crisis will be thorough. The training is timely because peace building is essential.”
“There has to be initiative that will bring about understanding among communities, most importantly among the pastoral communities and other communities in the country. What is missing now is the peace that had existed in the past between the pastoralists and the communities across the nation.”