The Edo State Government has rejected the planned Reserved Urban Grazing Area, RUGA Initiative by the federal government aimed at settling herders in parts of the country.
The state said it has ”an elaborate plan for agricultural development across all its value chain both in crop production and animal husbandry”.
This was contained in a statement by the spokesperson to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Crusoe Osagie, on Monday, July 1, 2019.
The state government insisted that its agricultural plans have nothing to do with Ruga initiative.
The statement noted: ”In all the agricultural programmes being executed by the Obaseki administration, the safety, security and prosperity of our people are the top priority and non-negotiable. We assure Edo people that Governor Obaseki will not cede their rights and land to anybody, as our programmes as a sovereign state do not run on the back of any external entity.”
He advised Edo citizens to disregard any contrary information circulated by the Edo State Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) or any other group or individual.
The Ruga initiative is pushing for the establishment of settlements for herders in some states.
The initiative has been rejected by some governors, and many Nigerians, mostly in the south, have kicked against the plan, which the government insists is aimed at reducing clashes between herders and farmers, which have intensified in recent months.
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who recently came under fire, said the initiative is different from the National Livestock Transformation Plan approved by state governors under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by him.
About 12 states have reportedly bought into the controversial initiative.
On May 21, 2019, the immediate past Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, announced that Buhari approved the Ruga settlement initiative earlier in the same month.
“Just ten days ago President Muhammadu Buhari approved a programme called the Ruga settlement. We are going to build settlements where herders will live, grow their cattle and produce milk,” he said.
“The milk will be bought by a milking parlour thus preventing their wives from moving around with milk. This is especially to avert any conflict between the herders and the farmers.”
Dave Umahi, the governor of Ebonyi State, the leader of the South East Governors Forum, has said there are no plans of establishing any RUGA settlement in any part of the South South or South East regions
Governor Umahi made this statement following insinuations that the federal government is planning to forcefully take over lands in the states for the scheme.