Following widespread condemnation, outrage and threats from the Middle Belt and Southern states, the Federal Government entered what was apparently a panic mode on Friday on its decision to establish what it called Ruga settlements for herdsmen across the country.
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, in a statement on Friday evening, distanced himself from the Ruga plan. He said he was not its supervisor “contrary to claims reported in sections of the media.”
The first sign that all might not be well on the Ruga matter was observed earlier as the Federal Ministry of Agriculture abruptly cancelled a press conference scheduled to be held on the plan and its controversies.
Friday afternoon, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Bello Umar scheduled a press conference for 1:45pm to clarify issues on the Ruga settlement, but the conference was abruptly postponed indefinitely.
According to the Director of Information, John Nakoji, President Muhammadu Buhari sent the Permanent Secretary to welcome ECOWAS delegations, so the press conference was called off.
The Vice President, Professor Osinbajo followed up on this late on Friday with what sounded like a diclaimer on the Ruga plan contrary to a claim made by a Miyetti Allah leader on Friday morning.
In a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, the vice president distanced himself from the National Livestock Transformation Plan approved by the National Economic Council (NEC) on January 17, 2019.
According to the statement issued in Abuja on Friday by Akande, “the Ruga initiative is different from the National Livestock Transformation Plan approved by state governors under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.”
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The statement recalled that NEC on January 17, 2019, approved the plan based on the recommendations of a Technical Committee of the Council chaired by Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State.
Other State Governors on the committee and Working Group of NEC, its said are those from Adamawa, Kaduna, Benue, Taraba, Edo, Plateau, Oyo & Zamfara – mostly the frontline States in the Farmer-Herder crises.
The statement explained that the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) 2019-2028 is a programme to be implemented in 7 pilot states of Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara (as decided by NEC in January), being States in the frontlines of the Farmer-Herder crises.
Afterwards, six other States have indicated readiness to also implement the plan. They are Katsina, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Ondo, and Edo states, the statement said.
It added: “The plan has six pillars through which it aims to transform the livestock production system in Nigeria along market oriented value chain while ensuring an atmosphere of peace and justice.
“The six key pillars include: economic investment, conflict resolution, justice and peace, humanitarian relief and early recovery, human capital development and cross-cutting issues such as gender, youth, research and information and strategic communication.
“In all the Federal Government will not impose on any State government regarding its land.”
The Ruga settlement which is expected to kick off in 12 states, has already been flagged off in Niger State by the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh.