Alhaji Hassan Ardo, the Nigeria Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, has said that the Ruga programme, whose implementation has been suspended, was “hijacked and politicised by mischief makers”.
Ardo, in a telephone interview with newsmen, argued that the project had been misunderstood and politicised by people who did not wish Nigeria well.
“Let us stop playing politics with meaningful programmes and policies that will enhance the living conditions of Nigerians.
“The programme will, in the long run, enhance the quality of diary production, increase revenue generation for government and improve the lives of herders,” he said.
Ardo expressed surprise that some state governors, who introduced the Anti-Open Grazing and Cattle Ranching Laws, had suddenly turned against the Ruga programme which, he opined, was the best option to tackling the perennial farmer/herder clashes.
He said that the suspension of the Ruga settlement project was “very unfortunate”, urging stakeholders to look at the scheme “more positively”.
Ardo advocated for a more aggressive enlightenment, not only among herders, but also for critical stakeholders, to ensure a better understanding of the benefits the livestock reform programme had for Nigeria.
The Ruga scheme, which involves the settling of herdsmen and their cattle in established settlements, was suspended following the controversy it raised after a government official announced plans to commence the scheme.
The scheme is among many others being considered as possible solutions to the lingering clashes between farmers and herdsmen grazing in open fields.