Sometime during the mass flagellation of Pastor Fatoyinbo’s allegedly randy ass and shortly before we became intimately acquainted with PH’s first daughter Tacha (not to be confused with Tasha) of BBN — Nigerians were given several stern warnings to focus on a more dire issue at hand. The alleged ceding of lands across every state in the country to pacify Fulani herdsmen, whose attacks on farm workers have consistently made headlines across the country, via a government-sponsored program — Ruga Settlements.
Now given that we did not come to this world or country to come and go and kill ourselves, we decided to put off any participation in the burgeoning hysteria and find out for ourselves just what the settlements mean for us as Nigerians.
Certified overnight masters on the subject, here are answers to any questions you might have on the topic.
What exactly are the Ruga Settlements?
According to the carefully worded Twitter press release of the Nigerian presidency, Ruga Settlements are rural settlements in which animal farmers, and not just cattle herders, will be settled in an organised place with basic amenities like schools, hospitals, vet clinics etc… to add value to meat and animal products. According to the presidency, these settlements will make beneficiaries of everyone involved in animal husbandry, and not just Fulani herders.
Despite the furor gaining momentum in the last week of June 2019, the Ruga program was approved in May, as confirmed by Audu Ogbeh, then Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, on May 21.
And In case you were wondering, ‘Ruga’ stands for Rural Grazing Area; and is not, in fact, a Fulani word as many hysterical Twitter fingers would have you believe.
How Many States Will Contain Ruga Settlements?
Left to the Federal Government, the Ruga Settlements, a government-funded operation, would be available in every state of the federation. This is despite the fact that the business of cattle herding is a largely private enterprise held by individuals in the country.
As of now, only 11 states have indicated interest in the program. These states being designated as Pilot states. These are: Sokoto, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Taraba, Katsina, Plateau, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger States.
Each state will have at least six locations where nomadic herders will be settled alongside others interested in rearing animals.
Seems Harmless Enough, Why Is Everyone Upset About It?
Well, the thing is…
NOBODY TOLD US ANYTHING ABOUT IT.
You know that thing about a people perishing for lack of knowledge? Well, that’s Nigerians with this Ruga information, or lack thereof.
Without the government first consulting the citizens and then mass informing us of the proposed plans under Ruga; most Nigerians were under the assumption that the Federal Government intended to arbitrarily take possession of state land round the country to push the settlement agenda.
This was particularly infuriating, owed to the fact that the Land Use Act of 1977 vests land ownership on the State government, and not the Federal Government.
Ditto the fact that there is a niggling assumption by Nigerians that a systemic plan to Fulanise Nigeria is in place, made worse by the President’s origins and government appointments.
In actuality, the plan was extended to states that showed interest in the program. Although Benue State, despite refusing to be a part of the program, found the Federal Government had earmarked and begun operations on 3 locations within the state for rural settlements; further worsening fears.
Who Is Going To Fund This Project?
Well, doing some more investigative work, since again — we weren’t told too much about it, it appears funding for this project has been allocated in the 2019 budget, contained in the ₦ 2.26bn set out for the development of national and grazing reserves.
Will The Vice-President Really Be Heading It?
That would be a no, regardless of what the General Secretary of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria – Baba Uthman Ngelzarma had us believe.
The VP is instead heading the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) , a 10-year initiative (2018-2027) to put ranching in the forefront for cattle rearing in the country. This program will enable registered cattle herders to receive rental agreements for lands from state governments and vest them with other opportunities like loans, grants and subsidies.
Should I Be Worried About The Settlements?
At this Time T, the answer is no. From all indications, the Federal Government will not be stealing lands or forcing rural co-existence with cattle herders in states that do not wish to have them present. If you are in a state that has shown interest in the program, and you are opposed to it, now would be the time to get your representatives number from TrueCaller and blow up his phone.
Any other questions? Let us know in the comments.