—Says it’s same thing with Ranching
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – GOVERNOR Simon Lalong of Plateau State Monday said that the controversy over the establishment of Ruga settlements for the Fulanis was uncalled for as it was the same thing with ranching.
Lalong, who is Chairman of Northern Governors Forum stated this while Fielding questions from State House correspondents after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa Abuja.
He said that in Plateau there was nothing like Ruga rather Livestock business, stressing that there was nothing different between the Ruga project and the Ranching under the chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
According to him, “I think, the Ruga thing should not be anything that should bring controversy with the level of sensitization we have already made. I am a member of the food security committee, I am a member of the herdsmen/farmers committee, we have gone a long way on this issue and we have said that the only solution that can address some of these insecurity issues between herdsmen and farmers is the ranching policy.
“You remember that one time we have gone far when some people called it colony and called it this and that, and it created controversy.
” Again, we have gone far under the leadership of Mr Vice President, and then we are hearing other terms, what they are talking about it’s the same thing that we are talking about.
“But I think when they mentioned Ruga, it may be particular to a particular tribe but what we are doing is all encompassing, it’s for the benefit of Nigeria. I have said particularly in my state that animal husbandry, live stocks rearing is not a prerogative of one tribe.
“Everybody must get involved in it and that is what we have done in our state when we registered for it. We said we are going to put these structures to enable us to encourage youth, train youth.
“Right now we are training permanent secretaries, retired civil servants who would also get involved in it so that we can address some of the insecurity that we have in the nation.
“So when somebody mentioned another word, people would not wait to question and find out who and who are bringing those words, that is just the simple fact.
“But if you go to what we have done because they have mentioned some states which are included, yes, those states applied, those states said we have land for it. It’s not federal government that is imposing it on any state.
“To the benefit of Mr president, the president has not imposed that on any states, it was voluntary. And they said any state that is prepared to do that to address insecurity in his state should come and apply.
“So some of the states applied and we are at the level of the pilot scheme and some mischief makers would start bringing terms to cause confusion in the country. It’s very unfortunate.”
Asked if the controversy surrounding the Ruga project was political, the Governor said, “I don’t know whether it is political. Of course I am a member of the committee, by the time we addressed that issue some people said yes we would prefer to do open grazing in our state, some said we would prefer to do ranching in our state and some said in our state we would call it Ruga model.
“So, different states with their different approaches, but Ruga term is not general to everybody. In my state we call it livestock something, it’s not Ruga and we have explained it to people.”
Also asked whether he was not worried over the allegation that the federal government was funding the Ruga project, he said, “No, I was here one time when people asked why is the federal government subsidizing agriculture, subsidizing ranching? Why is the real government subscribing agriculture, and I also asked why is the federal government subsidizing agriculture?
” This is a policy that we felt that it is not only for economic sense, but it would also address the issue of security. So if it is going to address insecurity in a period the country is confronted with serious security challenges then federal government would come and assist those who want to do it.
“They are not imposing it on any state, I am a member of this committee under the chairmanship of the Vice President, the federal government has not impose that on any state.
” They said if you have land for pilot scheme they can assist, and donor agencies are coming from all over, it is not a federal government project, the world bank is involved, the African Development Bank is involved.
” So if you have a scheme like this that can take poverty, bring revenue and also address insecurity, you will need to go into it but with due consultation from your state.
“We did a lot of sensitization, in my state it took me three months to do sensitization and we all agreed that we should bring this concept to empower people. It is not meant to empower one tribe it is for everybody and that would address the issue of insecurity because we don’t want people moving from one place to another looking for grasses.
“The fact that federal government is to bring the subsidy was a request from the committee chaired by mr Vice President. Goodluck Jonathan did it and he budgeted about N10 billion but we didn’t see the money. If he has done that at that time, we would not be fighting insecurity between herders and farmers today.”