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The Ruga Ideology is the least of Nigeria's Problems Right Now

Ruga Settlement

Buhari's latest plan to solve the headers and farmers clash or conflict is the Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) ideology. The RUGA plan was approved in the May 2019 before Buhari's first Cabinet was dissolved. The programme according to a statement released by the presidency on Sunday June 30th, is intended to curb the issue of open grazing of animals that has over time posed security threats to farmers and herders with the farmers always at the more receiving end. The conflict, mostly over later access and land resources has led to the death of thousands in past few years and herdsmen is usually blamed for majority of these attacks.

For further insight, herder-farmer conflict in Nigeria usually involves disputes over land and or cattle between herders (in particular the Fulani and Hausa) and farmers (example Tiv,Tarok and Adara). The most impacted States in Nigeria are Benue, Taraba,and Plateau. Since 2015-2018, over 3,641 people have died in the clashes. Moreso, majority of people have been displaced too. The Herdsmen-Farmers conflict has defiled traditional conflict resolution mechanisms and has proliferated small arms and crime in rural areas leading to a high level of insecurity. The majority of Herdsmen-Farmer clashes have occurred between Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Christain farmers thereby exacerbating ethnoreligious hostilities.

By this, one will wonder, towards concluding that this RUGA policy is actually a means to Islamize Christain States in Nigeria. The Fulani Herdsmen-Farmers, have increasingly been in conflict and competition with other groups over land and water access for their cattles. These conflicts are exacerbated by climate change, land degredation and population growth. The RUGA policy wants to see that all States of the country will provide land for Herdsmen and their cattles and this, the presidency believes will put an end to the nomadic lifestyle of Herdsmen who are traditionally the Fulanis.

Also, that the provision of Cattle markets will mark the end of Herdsmen transporting their herds mostly on foot and avoid conflict with local farming communities. 11 pilot States have shown interest in the RUGA Ideology, they are;

  1. Sokoto,
  2. Adamawa,
  3. Nasarawa,
  4. Kaduna,
  5. Kogi,
  6. Taraba,
  7. Katsina,
  8. Plateau,
  9. Kebbi,
  10. Zamfara and
  11. Niger.

These 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 _ Umar Mohammed; Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Most States like Benue and Rivers have publicly denounced RUGA settlements in the States they govern.

Nevertheless, the Presidency had made clear that the RUGA policy is not intended to seize States lands, colonize territories or impose RUGA on any part of the Federation, but that it is a voluntary programme. Hence, we have said so far that RUGA settlement is a Rural Settlement in which animal farmers stay in a designated place provided with basic amenities like schools, road networks, vet clinics, markets amongst others. So far, we do not know if RUGA is still functional or pending but in which ever case, I personally think it is not what Nigerians want now and the least of the country's problems.

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