Despite the Federal Government’s suspension of its Ruga Settlement Policy, youths under the aegis of
Concerned Youths of Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State have kicked against the programme, warning any of such settlement in their locality would be vehemently resisted.
The youths equally called on the Federal Government to abolish the policy, advising them to instead adopt Livestock Alimentation to stem the incessant farmer-herder clashes.
The group made its position known through its spokesman, Arch. Macham Makut, while addressing journalists in Jos, the State Capital.
Makut said, “As patriotic citizens, we acknowledge the Federal Government’s regard for the peace and progress of its citizens, in keeping with its constitutional responsibility.
“However, that the policy was drawn without the consent and inputs of the farmers whose lands are expected to be converted to Rugas is highly questionable and tantamount to land-grabbing.
“Also, that the government is considering resettling herdsmen while thousands of crop farming peasants who were violently evicted from their homes remain in IDP camps and other uninhabitable shelters is to say the least, insensible, divisive and an unwarranted assault.”
He then declared that, “We in Bokkos LGA, from the attacks of last year 2018 alone have over 7000 displaced persons with about nine communities desolate. These people have not been resettled.
“But we are aware that only the unilateral implementation of the Ruga program was suspended. This was not even because Nigerians opposed it, but because it was not in accordance with the design approved by the National Executive Council, National Economic Council and the National Food Security Council.
Makut disclosed that, “A letter from the President’s office dated July 2, 2019 to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture clearly States that a committee of the National Livestock Transformation Plan will be set up to oversee the implementation of the program.
“We therefore fear that the so-called suspension is only aimed at changing strategy, especially in view of the FG’s plan to repeal the Land Use Act as reported in the Punch Newspaper of Monday 8th July 2019.
“This has happened before; when the Grazing Reserve bill was first rejected in 2012, it was manufactured and brought back as Ranching/Colonies, later reintroduced as National Livestock Transformation Plan and now, Ruga.
“But we are vigilant and will resist any move to impose any unfair policy on us.
“Come to think of it, Plateau State for over a decade has witnessed a series of violent herdsmen attacks with thousands of innocent citizens killed, and properties worth billions of naira destroyed.
“None of the victims of these dastardly acts have ever received any Federal compensation or grant to start life again, despite losing all their means of livelihood, and in some instances, breadwinners to the attacks.
“This is not to talk of the many perpetrators of the attacks that were arrested and freed without facing justice as required by the law.
“The Government in fact recently told Nigerians that those attacking communities were foreigners. If those claims are even anything to go by, why then are we being forced to accommodate foreign terrorists? He asked.
“In the first place, virtually all the lands supposedly allocated for the so-called Ruga settlements are currently in use either for farming or human habitation.
“Glad enough, some of the Fulani leaders are not comfortable with the arrangement as it seeks to isolate them from communities they have peacefully coexisted with.”
The Concerned Youths of Bokkos further said, “But given that some sections of the Nigerian society are clamouring for it, with some even issuing threats over it, we want to make it clear for the records that we are totally against it.
“The best option, for us, is for every livestock farmer to cage his animals and raise them privately without constituting nuisance or threats to their neighbourhood.
“After all, livestock rearing just as crop farming is a private business. Livestock Alimentation as the system of keeping animals within a confined space, providing them with medical and nutritional care can better resolve the attacks on crop farmers.
“Livestock Alimentation means replicating the existing practices in poultry farming for cows, pigs, goats, and sheep which are the commonly known destructive animals when left to stray.”