There is no land for Ruga settlements or livestock programme for herdsmen in the South East Region, South East Governments emphasised.
This clarification was made yesterday by Director-General, Professor Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, director-general, South-East Governors Forum, in order to douse tensions arising from allegations in the social media that some South East Governors have mapped out land for the now suspended controversial Ruga settlement programme of the Federal Government.
Ortuanya harped in a statement that “The attention of the SGF has been drawn to the various attacks and campaign of calumny by our people alleging that governors of the Southeast have secretly donated land for Ruga programme being promoted by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the NLTP as approved by the National Economic Council (NEC).”
The SGF urged the Federal Government to start the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) in Northern Nigeria.
According to the governors, no South East governor “has donated any land or intends to donate any land for any of the two programmes due to lack of enough land in the entire South East”.
“Governors of Southeast appreciate the fact that we have good and law-abiding herdsmen who have been living with us; some of them were even born here. We have been living in peace with them until recently when we started witnessing invasion of our land, kidnapping of our people, killing of defenceless natives and destruction of their farmlands.
“These herdsmen that have been living peacefully with us together with the natives have insisted that these evil as now experienced in our land are the handiwork of herdsmen moving from other states into Southeast and most of the time, these herdsmen are not even Nigerians.”
The SGF noted that no peaceful herdsmen will be chased away, adding that “That we agreed with herdsmen living peacefully with us and the natives that movement of cows into the Southeast should be by road transportation using trailers to their specific cow markets. No more allowing foreign herdsmen to move their cattle by foot as this is the point of conflict with the farmers and natives.”
Ortuanya added that the governors were committed to selling grasses and by-product of farms to support NLTP for states interested in the programme.
“However, it must be emphasized that what Federal Government and NEC approved was NLTP and it is not compulsory for all the states but for any willing state who wants to participate in NLTP”, the statement said.
THE SGF implored various stakeholders in the Nigerian project to be mindful of their utterances in order not to stir up controversy, advising states to go into areas where they have competitive advantage in pursuit of their development goals.
“In this direction, we advise the Federal Government to immediately start the implementation of NLTP in the Northern States that have accepted the programme and where we have large expanse of land.
“This will surely stop the movement of cows from one state to the other and put a stop to the crisis and suspicion between farmers and herdsmen.
“The objective and success of this programme must be viewed along the lines of conflict resolution, welfare for herders, peaceful co-existence among farmers and herders, rehabilitation and reintegration of the displaced farmers/herders and natives and increase in the wealth of herders, farmers and the nation at large
“We ask all our people living outside the Southeast, especially in the North to ignore the threat contained in the video message by self-styled Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG). We are in talks with the Northern Governors and their leaders who speak for their people and they have assured us that there is no harm that will befall our people living in various Northern states across Nigeria.
“Finally, we advise those drumming for war to remember our mothers and children and have a rethink. In a state of war, even your friends could become your enemies. Let us bond together as one people and start to think on how to rebuild our youths whose future we ate up in the time past, rebuild our nation whose patriotism we ignored in the time past and love one another.”