By Henry Umoru
A former Governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, APC, Abia, said, yesterday, that President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government failed to achieve their aim on Ruga Settlements Scheme across the country because there was no wide consultation with the people and major stakeholders.
According to Kalu, it became very imperative for government to suspend the policy because it was not properly marketed to Nigerians, particularly those in the southern and North-Central parts of the country.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja, the Senate Chief Whip, who disclosed how he pioneered “Ruga” in Abia when he governed the state between 1999 to 2007, stressed that, as the Chief Executive Officer, he provided land for Fulani settlement in Umuahia.
According to him, he perfected the implementation of the scheme in the state without generating any controversy, mistrust or suspicion between the people of Abia, their brothers from the North or other categories of Nigerians resident there.
Meanwhile, the Senator described Service Chiefs as the staff of the President, even as he said that as much as such appointees are more or less personal staff of the President , Nigerians should focus attention more on service delivery of whoever is in power than the nature or composition of his appointees within the security circle.
Kalu, who called for equity in the spread of the heads of major security outfits in the country, particularly the Service Chiefs, suggested that appointments of military chiefs should spread across the six geo-political zones of the country as in the case of appointment of ministers as the Constitution stipulates that one minister must come from a state.
As part of moves to ensure that each zone produces a Service Chief, he would bring before the Senate a bill to that effect, adding that it would help address the issue of marginalization as alleged by some zones.
The senator said, “When people talk about Ruga, I wonder. In 2001, I did Ruga in Abia. In Lokpanta, I built it and the cows were being sold in Umuahia and Aba. In 2001, I invited the Hausa community and they said Umuahia and Aba we needed to decongest.
“Where we have Shoprite in Umuahia today used to be the settlement, the same thing with Aba. We had an honest meeting with them and agreed that I will provide them land and water, electricity, everything, but this would be your location. I collected five Coaster buses to show them the land and if it is agreeable by everyone.
“ I had a meeting with the communities and they agreed in Lokpanta and that is the biggest cow market in both South-East and South-South of Nigeria today. So it is about the attitude of people to issues.
“Yes, Federal Government should always do very serious and extensive consultations whenever they want to embark on such issues. It is not just to go and put a deliberate policy and say ‘I want to do Ruga’. People in the village don’t understand what Ruga means; they will panic and say you want to kill all of them”.