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Accept Ruga Settlements We Will Give You The New Minimum Wage

The Federal Government’s plan through the
implementation of Rural Grazing Area (RUGA)
settlements to solve the recurring herders-
farmers’ conflict is currently a subject of
controversy.
RUGA is the latest plan by the President
Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to put an
end to a recurring conflict between nomadic
herders and farmers.
Many state Governments, including Benue State
and several notable Southern and Middle Belt
socio-political groups have completely
condemned the plan and called for it to be
scrapped.
Some have even alleged that RUGA is
confirmation of the president’s alleged plan to
Islamise the country. The allegation has been
dismissed by the Federal Government.
Others opine that the RUGA settlement is an
attempt by the FG to take people’s ancestral
lands and hand them over to the nomadic Fulani
tribe who will in turn move in in droves and claim
the lands forever. The Federal Government also
refuted these claims, insisting that it believes
states will benefit from the establishment.
Against this backdrop, here are seven things to
know about the Rural Grazing Area (RUGA)
settlements.
1. Buhari approved the RUGA plan in May
Only a week before Buhari’s first term cabinet
was dissolved in May 2019, then Minister of
Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh,
disclosed that the president approved the RUGA
plan.
“Just 10 days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari
approved a programme called the RUGA
settlement,” Ogbeh said on May 21, 2019.
According to a statement released by the
presidency on Sunday, June 30, the
implementation of RUGA settlements is to curb
open grazing of animals that continue to pose
security threats to farmers and herders.
The conflict, most notably over land access and
resources, has led to the death of thousands in
the past few years, with herders usually blamed
for majority of attacks.
2. The settlements will house herders and animal
farmers
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry
of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed
Umar, announced on Tuesday, June 25 that the
settlements will house nomadic herdsmen who
breed animals.
“We felt that to do away with herders-farmers’
conflict, we need to settle our nomads and those
who breed animals.
We want to put them in a place that has been
developed as a settlement, where we provide
water for their animals, pasture, schools for their
children, security, agro-rangers, etc,” he said.
The presidency disclosed on Sunday that animal
farmers, not just cattle herders, will be settled in
RUGA settlements with provision of necessary and
adequate basic amenities such as schools,
hospitals, road networks, vet clinics, markets and
manufacturing entities that will process and add
value to meats and animal products.
3. FG believes RUGA settlements will be of
benefit to everyone
Umar noted that RUGA settlements will put an
end to the nomadic lifestyle of herdsmen, who are
usually, but not exclusively, Fulani.
He said the provision of cattle markets will mark
the end of herdsmen having to transport their
herds mostly by foot and avoid conflict with local
farming communities.
He said, “We also felt that we need to develop
cattle markets whereby you don’t need to be
transporting animals through very long distances.
“We will also bring in investors that will set up
modern centres where cattle breeders can
slaughter their animals. When we do that, a lot of
other things will come up.
“We are going to change their lifestyle, take them
away from our streets and from wandering in the
bush and develop districts, hamlets and towns
and definitely in the next five to 10 years you will
never see a nomad moving about, wandering or
kidnapping. And this will end all these security
challenges.”
Umar estimated that each RUGA settlement will
provide at least 2,000 jobs and will be a major
attraction for foreign investors.
“The RUGA settlement will attract a lot of
investments to Nigeria and it is our belief that in
the next five years, each RUGA settlement will
provide nothing less than 2,000 employment
opportunities,” he said.
The presidency also said in its Sunday statement
that RUGA settlements will be of benefit to
everyone in animal husbandry and not just Fulani
herders.
“The overall benefit to the nation includes a
drastic reduction in conflicts between herders and
farmers, a boost in animal protection complete
with a value chain that will increase the quality
and hygiene of livestock in terms of beef and milk
production, increased quality of feeding and
access to animal care and private sector
participation in commercial pasture production by
way of investments.
“Other gains are job creation, access to credit
facilities, security for pastoral families and
curtailment of cattle rustling,” the presidency
said.
4. 11 pilot states have shown interest
RUGA settlements have already started springing
up with 11 states that have reportedly shown
interest designated as pilot states. They are
Sokoto, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kogi,
Taraba, Katsina, Plateau, Kebbi, Zamfara and
Niger.
According to Umar, each state will have at least
six locations where nomadic herders will be
settled alongside others interested in rearing
animals.
“Already state and local governments are buying
into the initiative. Many states have indicated
interest. They have been coming to the ministry
and will like to join to ensure that we set up
RUGA settlements in their states so that their
nomads will have a place. Also, they will have
cattle markets and modern abattoirs in their
states,” he said.
Benue State had initially been listed as an
interested pilot state, but Governor Samuel Ortom
publicly denounced RUGA settlements after the
Federal Government appeared to ignore its
objections and tried to implement the plan in the
state.
5. RUGA not covered in the National Livestock
Transformation Plan
Contrary to how it was initially claimed in some
quarters, the RUGA plan is not part of the
National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
NLTP is a N179 billion 10-year initiative
(2018-2027) that champions ranching as the way
forward for cattle rearing in the country.
The plan, presented by the National Economic
Council (NEC) in June 2018, recommends that
cattle herders are expected to be registered with
cooperatives for the purpose of the ranching
scheme.
These cooperatives will then be able to get rental
agreements for land from state governments and
also benefit from ranch resources on several
terms including loans, grants, and subsidies.
The funding of the plan from the federal
government and state governments is expected to
last for the first three years in the pilot phase for
a total of N70 billion while private sector interests
and investments between the third and tenth year
is expected to be in excess of N100 billion.
In response to the outrage caused by the RUGA
settlements, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who
chairs NEC, has publicly dismissed claims that
the plan is associated with NLTP.
“On the National Livestock Transformation Plan,
13 States are already in the process of
implementation of a plan to transform the
livestock production system in Nigeria along
market oriented value chain while ensuring an
atmosphere of peace and justice.
“The States are Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna,
Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba, Zamfara, Katsina,
Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Ondo, and Edo.
“These States are at different stages in the
process, but have indicated readiness to
implement the plan. Truth is: this FG will not
impose on any state government regarding its
land,” Osinbajo’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande,
said in a statement on Friday, June 28.
6. RUGA plan is quite similar to NLTP
Despite distancing the National Livestock
Transformation Plan from the RUGA settlements
initiative, similarities between the two exist in
abundance.
Just like NLTP, RUGA promotes ranching as the
way forward for cattle rearing in the country.
Umar also revealed that cattle herders that hope
to benefit from RUGA settlements are expected to
be registered with cooperatives for the purpose of
the ranching scheme.
It is only the cooperatives that will then be able
to get rental agreements for land from state
governments and also benefit from ranch
resources on several terms.
These are similar conditions stipulated under the
National Livestock Transformation Plan.
7. The Federal Government is “bent” on making
RUGA a success
While speaking last week, Umar noted that the
Buhari-led government “is bent on making the
plan work” because of its huge and far-reaching
impact on public safety and national security.
In its Sunday statement, the presidency urged
states to join the Federal Government to make
efforts towards finding a peaceful resolution.
“As we seek a permanent solution to these
unwanted conflicts, efforts must be made to
ensure that no innocent person faces any kind of
deprivation or loss of right and freedom under our
laws,” the presidency said.
The government also called for leaders to not
politicise the RUGA initiative, assuring the public
that the Buhari-led administration has no plans to
force settlements on any state even though it has
gazetted lands across the federation. 



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