Again, Osinbajo Defends Livestock Transformation Plan, Says Scheme Not RUGA

Yemi Osinbajo

Daji Sani in Yola

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has stated that the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) programme is not RUGA but a scheme tailored to build peace and prevent herder/farmers’ clashes in Nigerian communities.

The vice-president disclosed this yesterday at the flagging off of the NLTP at Gongoshi Grazing Reserve in Mayo-Belwa Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

Osinbajo further explained that the programme is a well thought out scheme for effective use of land and water in a peaceful atmosphere and to boost the economy of the state.

He maintained that the plan was drawn up in the height of the crisis to find a lasting solution to it.

According to him, the federal government has designed the plan in such way that each state will determine its own model, stressing that this is not RUGA.

The vice-president said the federal government had not come to take any land in Adamawa State, rather it had allowed the state to decide on its own what land to allocate to the programme and how the programme would run.

Also speaking at flagging-off ceremony, the state Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, said NLTP has nothing to do with RUGA, but a project he is convinced has the answers to perennial clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

He said he constituted a six-man committee in his first month in office to implement the programme in the state because of his belief in the potential of the programme to promote co-existence and grow the economy of the state.

The Chairman of the state committee for the implementation of the Livestock Transformation Plan, Prof Alikidon Voh, who spoke earlier during the flagging-off ceremony, disclosed that out of Nigeria’s 415 grazing reserves, Adamawa State has the highest number-69 out of which 38 had been gazetted.

He added that of the gazetted number, five had been earmarked for the implementation of the NLTP in the state, including the Gongoshi Grazing Reserve and reserves in Jada, Song, Gombi, and Maiha

However the ceremony was trailed by mixed feelings in the state with many residents still believing that the NLTP is just a changed in the nomenclature of Ruga Settlement Scheme, which was suspended by the federal government due to the controversies surrounding it.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued in Yola, the Pene Da Bwatiye, a socioeconomic and cultural association of the Bwatiye, has said its initial reaction as a people to the NLTP was to give it a wide berth because it was seen as a continuation of the implementation of the RUGA scheme, but for the sincerity of purpose and commitment demonstrated by the vice-president to the actualisation of the plan.

“We have decided to give the federal government the benefit of doubt and cooperate with it to find a lasting solution to this destabilising issue, but respectfully recommend to the federal government the following issues that need to be addressed by it in order to achieve maximum and lasting results from the initiative,” the group said.

The cultural group said continuing attacks on their people should cease before the implementation of the NLTP project.

According to the group, “All the five pilot lands earmarked for the takeoff of the initiative in Adamawa State fall within or close to Bwatiye traditional lands and holdings.

“The Gongoshi Grazing Reserve in particular has always served as the launching pad for attacks by herdsmen on our people in Mayo Belwa, Demsa, Numan and Girei LGAs.

“These incessant attacks on our people have continued unabated till date, which include some of the settlements the vice president visited in 2017 following the first wave of attacks.

“Aside the previous attacks over the years that claimed so many lives and property, this year alone, the herdsmen have launched attacks on so many areas in our kingdom.”