NIGERIAN Governors Forum (NGF) has distanced itself from plans by the federal government to establish cattle colonies across the country saying that it did not make the proposal and accepting to implement the move was voluntary.
Over the last week, the political temperature in Nigeria has risen substantially after it emerged that the federal government is 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 created fear.
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.
Yesterday, Governor Kayode Fayemi, the NGF chairman, said the cattle colony programme known as Ruga, was not initiated by the forum. He added that accepting the proposal is voluntary as Ruga is the brainchild of the National Food Security Council.
According to Governor Fayemi, he was surprised that the Taraba State governor Darius Ishiaku, kicked against Ruga, adding that he is a member of the council that mooted the idea. Governor Fayemi described Ruga as a response to the problem of settlement which herdsmen currently face.
Governor Fayemi added: “Frankly, I will be surprised if you say the governor of Taraba State said that because the governor, my good brother, is on the National Food Security Council. He is a member of that council and I believe this decision came of out the deliberation of that council.
“If anyone is saying that he doesn’t want it, to the best of my knowledge, it is a voluntary arrangement. I am not going to get into any discussion over whether it is the right thing to do or not but it didn’t come out of Nigeria Governors Forum, it came out of the National Food Security Council’s agenda.”
He stressed that it is the National Food Security Council’s responsibility is really to ensure that Nigeria protects food production and helps those with challenges. According to the governor, Ruga is a proposal and a way of addressing the problem for those nomads who need temporary shelter.
Governor Ishiaku, said the plan to cede part of Taraba State’s land for the project is against the law, adding that the federal government should support its anti-grazing law to succeed. He urged the federal government to support the state’s ranching policy.