Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan and David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
A human rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), and a prominent chief in Ibadan land, Oyo State, Dr. Taiye Ayorinde, yesterday called on the federal government to completely cancel its proposed Ruga policy, saying suspending it is nothing but sitting on a keg of gun powder.
The 84-year-old Baale of Ekotedo in Ibadan, who wondered how the issue of cattle rearing, a private business concern, has suddenly turned to government business, said President Muhammadu Buhari administration is pushing the country to a point of destruction if it fails to cancel the programme.
Ayorinde, while speaking at the presentation of Obafemi Awolowo Leadership Award to him as the most outstanding Baale in Yoruba land by the Congress of Nigerian Youths (CONYO), said the federal government can do the country a lot of good by canceling the Ruga programme rather than suspending it and waiting for another convenient time to reintroduce it under a different name.
He referred to the pronouncement of late Justice Adewale Thompson, which declared that anyone who must keep animals must provide house for them and avoid roaming of animals in the streets anywhere in Nigeria.
According to the traditional ruler, “Why is it that we have a government which will not listen to its citizens and obey the law? The law stipulates that on no account should animals be found roaming about without the owner providing housing for them. He must provide a barn or ranch for the animals. That is the law of the land, and we expect this government to apply the law to ensure peace.”
Ayornde, a member of Ibadan Elders Council, said no parcel of land in Yoruba land would be donated to herdsmen, adding that “every land in South-west region was by inheritance, passed on by our forefathers, and you cannot come from somewhere and say you want to take any land. As one of those who attended the last Yoruba Summit, it was our collective decision there that it is not possible to ‘Rugalise’ Yoruba land. The federal government is advised therefore to cancel outright the Ruga programme and not just suspend it.”
Meanwhile, Intersociety has also voiced its concern on the Ruga policy, urging the federal government not only to suspend its proposed Ruga and National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) but to totally discontinue the programme.
The group in a statement made available to THISDAY in Awka, Anambra State, said the project has been roundly rejected by Nigerians, and that the government would have no justification re-introducing it under any guise in the future.
The statement signed by the Chairman Board of Trustees (BoT) of the group, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi, said: “We (Intersociety) still strongly hold that the two controversial programmes of the federal government are a camouflage for the promotion and propagation of radical Islamism.
“Although the government, as expected, has denied the existence of jihadist content or intent in the two controversial programmes, its body language is very evidential and has continued to rubbish such denials.”
It said apart from a strong suspicion of jihadist content or intent, there is no other convincing reason whatsoever that can justify the programme, which they described as disastrous and riotous.