Ranch Owners Back Suspension of Ruga Settlements

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Esther Oluku

The Association of Ranch Owners of Nigeria has thrown its weight the decision of the federal government to suspend the implementation of the Rural Grazing Area scheme (RUGA) for herdsmen.

The National Publicity Secretary of the association, Tajudeen Abdulkareem, said in a statement yesterday that the prompt decision to shelve the programme after widespread misgivings on its concept and modalities, was an attestation to the sensitivity of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to run a people-oriented government by listening to the voice of Nigerians.

“We should not be seen, at this point in time, to dwell on the ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ of RUGA. Suffice to say that the step taken by government will enable policy makers to return to the drawing board in the interest of promoting national harmony, understanding and peaceful co-existence,” the statement said.

The statement noted that the National Economic Council (NEC) and the federal government had earlier approved a programme designated the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).

The ranch owners added that the NLTP also has provision for the rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within crises-affected states and development of ranches in any willing state of the federation.

“It is on record, and without dispute, that the NLTP approved by NEC and the federal government is only voluntary for any of the 36 States willing to participate. The policy document clearly indicates that any State Governor that is interested in NLTP is required to bring development plan in line with NLTP for implementation which will be unique to the particularly State based on the challenges of the State. It is instructive that Bayelsa State started a ranching scheme in 2017,” statement explained.

The statement further stated that the National Livestock Transformation Plan was approved by all the state governors at the Nigerian Governors Forum meeting under the umbrella of the National Economic Council.

This association pleaded with all Nigerians to give the federal government the benefit of doubt in its intention to find a lasting solution to the farmers-herders conflict.

“We are convinced that the most enduring solution to the internal conflicts that have claimed many lives and destroyed communities is to promote peaceful co-existence by accommodating one another. We also believe that the creation of ranches will, on the long term, promote sustainable meat production, expand business opportunities and create wealth for entreprenuers,” the statement added.