NIGERIA’S National Economic Council (NEC) has adopted an alternative livestock programme after President Muhammadu Buhari was forced to suspend his proposed Ruga settlement plan following widespread protests against the proposals.
Over the last month, the political temperature in Nigeria has risen substantially after it emerged that the federal government was proposing that states make land available to Fulani cattle herdsmen to allow them create livestock colonies. Coming against a background whereby Fulani cattle herdsmen have carried out numerous murderous attacks against farming communities, the move has been bitterly opposed.
Within the last five or so years, heavily armed herdsmen have been attacking villages, particularly in the Middle Belt, murdering thousands of innocent villagers. Several state governors have suggested that herdsmen should establish private ranches to raise their livestock, to end the practise of them marching their animals across the country along grazing routes.
With opposition to the plan so fierce, President Buhari was forced to abandon Ruga and refer the matter back to the NEC, made up of state governors and chaired by vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo. After holding a meeting yesterday, the NEC opted to adopt an alternative National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, said the NLTP would be all-inclusive, adding that it was for states that were willing to key into the programme. He added that any state interested in the programme was required to draw up a development plan and implementation details in line with the federal government’s own programme.
“We, the NEC Committee on Farmers/Herders Crisis under the chairmanship of the vice president, met today to deliberate on the approved programme of the NEC and federal government tagged, NLTP. We are aware that the president has suspended the implementation of the Ruga programme initiated and being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“This is because it is not consistent with the NEC and federal government’s approved NLTP. NLTP has programmes of rehabilitation of internally displaced persons, resulting from the crisis and also the development of ranching in any willing state of the federation.
“Its beauty is that what NEC and the federal government approved is a voluntary programme to all the 36 states which may like to participate. It is not compulsory and any state that is willing will key into the programme,” Governor Umahi said.
He added that each willing state is expected to come up with a plan unique to it, based on the challenges that it has in respect of the farmers/herders crisis. Present at the meeting were the governors of Kebbi and Plateau States, the deputy governor of Adamawa State, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and the secretary of the Technical Sub-Committee of Farmers/Herders Crisis.