By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA- The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, has expressed disappointment at what it called the insensitivity and impunity of the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Board of Trusteees, BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin who Tuesday declared support for the suspended herders’ settlement programme popularly called Ruga.
In a statement jointly signed by the quartet of Yinka Odumakin, Professor Chigozie Ogbu, Senator Bassey Henshaw and Dr. Isuwa Dogo on behalf of South-West, South-East, South-South and Middle Belt respectively, the group noted that Ruga, if allowed to spread across the country would create homelands for the nomads nationwide.
The statement read: “The PDP BoT chair has only confirmed our fears that this is an ethnic conquest policy that is at variance with nationhood when he said, “I and my ethnic group (Fulani) had embraced the programme. Ruga project includes provision of hospitals, schools, water supply and electricity, among other facilities, which will have direct bearing on the lives of herders. Apart from that, it will also tackle the incessant farmers/herdsmen’ conflicts as well as boost food security in the country.”
According to the group, “the ethnic domination programme seeks to create homelands for Fulani herdsmen all over Nigeria in spite of the terror non-Fulani communities have been subjected to even when these herders are nomads.
“Southern and Middle Belt communities have rejected the internal colonialism agenda outrightly.
“We say clearly to Jibrin that his appeal to our zones to accept the obnoxious policy is rejected with no thanks.”
They called on Senator Walid to “join his fellow ethnic supremacists to pursue Ruga in the states in the North that have accepted Ruga and spare us his sophistry and non-sequitor .
“Our opposition to the policy remains unwavering and Ruga will only be implemented in our communities after a military conquest of the entire South and Middle Belt as we have told Femi Adesina that we will keep our lands and lives against Ruga policy.”
They further argued that their position had nothing to do with affiliation to either the PDP or its Presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar but on national interest.
“We are not members of the PDP, though we adopted Atiku as presidential candidate in the last election based on his promise to restructure Nigeria, but we call on all PDP Governors in our zones to ignore their BoT Chair who has spoken as a champion of his ethnic group but wearing the badge of their party.”