Socio-cultural groups, including the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere and organizations in Benue State have faulted the plan by the Federal Government to establish Ruga settlements for herdsmen in states across the country.
The Federal Government had on Tuesday said in the next five years, the establishment of the Ruga herdsmen’s settlements would stop open grazing by herdsmen. It said that no fewer than 12 states had accepted the settlements in their areas.
But the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, said the South-West would not surrender an inch of its land for Ruga settlement for herdsmen.
Afenifere’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said the Yoruba was not in support of the Ruga settlement meant for Fulani herdsmen, describing it as a ploy to colonize the country by the nomadic tribe.
He stated that the moves had confirmed former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s statement that there was a plan to ‘Fulanise the country.’
Asked if the Ruga settlement would end pastoralist and farmers’ clashes as claimed by the Federal Government, Afenifere stated, “They can tell that to the marines; The Federal Government simply wants to carve out land from every community to give to the Fulani.
“When former President Obasanjo said there was a plan to ‘Fulanise’ Nigeria, they said it was not so, but what are you doing? For us in the South-West, no inch of Yorubaland would be given for Ruga because it is a plan to colonise the country. It is like what the British did.”
Odumakin pointed out that the plan was capable of precipitating crisis and jeopardizing the unity of the country, stating that the agenda was “sectional and clannish.”
He said, “Now that they are talking of local government autonomy, the plan is to turn the Ruga settlements to local governments for the Fulani in the future. So we reject the agenda, we don’t accept it.
“We are enlightened people; we can’t be deceived by such a ruse. They don’t care about the unity of this country and they are running Nigeria in a sectional way and pandering to clannish interests.”
On its part, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, warned the Federal Government not create unnecessary tension with the plan to establish Ruga settlements for herdsmen across the country.
The Ohanaeze President-General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media, Emeka Attamah, said the only option to address the killings of farmers across the country by Fulani herdsmen remained the establishment of ranches in states that had land, but not certainly in the South-East.
Nwodo said what the Federal Government planned was to use dishonest means to achieve the open grazing or cattle colony agenda which it failed to achieve through the 8th National Assembly.
He said Ohanaeze would deploy everything available to it to stop any attempt to establish cattle colonies in the South-East in the name of Ruga settlements for herdsmen.
Nwodo stated, “Ohanaeze is appealing to the Federal Government to allow peace to reign in Nigeria. Buhari should pursue the global best practices in his quest to plant his kinsmen in all parts of Nigeria.”
Nwodo said that Ohanaeze was fully in support of the South-East governors’ position that there was no land for the establishment of Ruga settlements in Igbo land.
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