RUGA Not FG’s Project, Says Plateau Gov

Simon Bako Lalong

Give us RUGA, Bauchi gov tells Buhari

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

Plateau State Governor, Mr. Simon Lalong, yesterday in Abuja said the controversial rural grazing area (RUGA) settlement is not a federal government project but states’ initiative that is only subsidised by the federal government.

Lalong who made this clarification after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the State House, said the project is the same thing as ranching which has been advocated and supported by various states but only described by different terminologies.

According to him, whereas the project is being implemented in Plateau State, it is not called RUGA in the state but rather known as livestock project, pointing out that controversy surrounding it is unnecessary.

“So, different states have their different approaches, but RUGA term is not general to everybody. In my state, we call it livestock something – It is not RUGA and we have explained it to people,” he said.

Lalong who said his state had gone far in the implementation of the project, argued that there was nothing bad in federal government subsidising it for states if the overall intention is to address insecurity and poverty.

He re-echoed the presidency’s position that the project was not imposed on any state but rather a voluntary affair, explaining that he is a member of a committee chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo where the idea being implemented in his state was conceived.

According to the governor, the federal government only suggested that any state who could donate land would secure the support of the federal government, adding that donor agencies would also support such state.

However, he noted the importance of implementing such project in consultations with residents of every state that shows interest, explaining that in Plateau State for instance, a lot of sensitisation was done.

He dismissed insinuations that the project was conceived to empower one tribe above the other, saying rather, it is a general project meant to address insecurity. In another development, Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, yesterday visited Buhari in the State House, demanding for the implementation of RUGA in his state.

Bala, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor, said people of the state were entirely in support of the project, echoing both the presidency and Lalong that the project is voluntary and will help to address insecurity.

Answering questions from journalists after a meeting with Buhari, Mohammed said Bauchi needed RUGA project because the state is made up of about 60 to 70 per cent Fulani population.

He said partnering the federal government had become important because his state is plagued by certain social ills and insecurity.

“I must establish relationship with the federal government because of the serious challenges that we have, challenges in development, social issues and security issues.”