We’ve No Land for RUGA, NLTP, South-east Govs Insist

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Vow not to chase away herdsmen We haven’t suspended livestock transformation plan, says presidency

Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

The South East Governors Forum yesterday reaffirmed its opposition to the donation of land for the suspended RUGA programme and the National Livestock Transformation Plan, (NLTP) as approved by the National Economic Council, (NEC).

This is coming as the presidency yesterday clarified that the NLTP of the federal government has not been suspended

The governors said the five states in the zone lacked enough land for the people, let alone additional one to be donated for the programmes.

In a statement issued by the forum’s Director General, Prof. Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, and made available to THISDAY in Enugu, the governors however pledged that the zone will not chase away herdsmen who are peaceful and have been living peacefully in the South-east.

“The fact remains that no South-east Governor has donated any land or intends to donate any land for any of the two programmes for lack of enough land in the entire South -east.

“Governors of South-east appreciate the fact that we have good and law-abiding herdsmen who have been living with us; some of them were even born here. We have been living in peace with them until recently when we started witnessing invasion of our land, kidnapping of our people, killing of defenseless natives and destruction of their farmlands. These herdsmen that have been living peacefully with us together with the natives have insisted that these evils as now experienced in our land are the handiwork of herdsmen moving from other states into South-east and most of the time, these herdsmen are not even Nigerians,” the governors said.

The governors said they had agreed with herdsmen “living peacefully with us and the natives that movement of cows into the South-east should be by road transportation using trailers to their specific cow markets. “No more allowing foreign herdsmen to move their cattle by foot as this is the point of conflict with the farmers and natives.

“That we do not have any land to donate for RUGA or NLTP programme but we are committed to selling grasses and by-products of our farms to support NLTP for states that have keyed into the programme.

“The wisdom of economics allows states to develop along the lines of their economic comparative advantage. In this direction, we advise the FGN (Federal Government of Nigeria) to immediately start the implementation of NLTP in the Northern States that have accepted the programme and where we have large expanse of land. “This will surely stop the movement of cows from one state to the other and put a stop to the crisis and suspicion between farmers and herdsmen. The objective and success of this programmes must be viewed along the lines of conflict resolution, welfare for herders, peaceful co-existence among farmers and herders, rehabilitation and reintegration of the displaced farmers/ herders and natives and increase in the wealth of herders, farmers and the nation at large

“We ask all our people living outside the South-east especially in the north to ignore the threat contained in the video message by self-styled Northern Youths. We are in talks with the northern governors and their leaders who speak for their people and they have assured us that there is no harm that will befall our people living in various northern states across Nigeria”.

Meanwhile, the presidency yesterday clarified that the NLTP of the federal government has not been suspended.

While advising Nigerians not to worry about the 30-day ultimatum given by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) over the suspension of the nationwide implementation of the Ruga settlement for Fulani herders, the presidency advised the CNG to respect the office of the President which, it said, took the decision in national interest.

The Senior Policy Adviser in charge of Agriculture Interventions Coordination in the Office of the Vice President, Dr. Andrew Kwasari, stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja during a training session organised for the executives of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and its executives in eight states considered to be flashpoints.

Kwasari said, “No, the National Livestock Transformation Plan 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 (NEC), National Food Security Council NFSC), and Federal Executive Council (FEC) working together to deliver this plan. So, for us, this is the type of leadership that the country needs. So, there is no mention of suspension whatsoever for the NLTP.”