Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere and organizations socio-cultural groups in Benue State have faulted the plan by the Federal Government to establish Ruga settlements for herdsmen in states across the country.
The Federal Government on Tuesday said in the next five years, the establishment of the Ruga herdsmen’s settlements would stop open grazing by herdsmen. It said that no fewer than 12 states had accepted the settlements in their areas.
But Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, said the South-West would not surrender an inch of its land for Ruga settlement for herdsmen. Afenifere’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said the Yoruba was not in support of the Ruga settlement meant for Fulani herdsmen, describing it as a ploy to colonise the country by the nomadic tribe.
Asked if the Ruga settlement would end pastoralist and farmers’ clashes as claimed by the Federal Government, Afenifere stated;
“They can tell that to the marines; The Federal Government simply wants to carve out land from every community to give to the Fulani. When former President Obasanjo said there was a plan to ‘Fulanise’ Nigeria, they said it was not so, but what are you doing? For us in the South-West, no inch of Yorubaland would be given for Ruga because it is a plan to colonise the country. It is like what the British did.”
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Odumakin pointed out that the plan was capable of precipitating crisis and jeopardizing the unity of the country, stating that the agenda was “sectional and clannish.”
On its part, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, warned the Federal Government not to create unnecessary tension with the plan to establish Ruga settlements for herdsmen across the country.
The Ohanaeze President-General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who spoke to The PUNCH through his Special Adviser on Media, Emeka Attamah, said the only option to address the killings of farmers across the country by Fulani herdsmen remained the establishment of ranches in states that had land, but not certainly in the South-East.
Also, the three main socio-cultural organizations in Benue State: the Mdzough U Tiv, the Ochetoha K’ Idoma and Omi Ny’ Igede, said the Ruga settlement was another ploy to claim the Benue land.
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In a statement signed by Chief Edward Ujege, Adoya Amali and Bem Okpa, the group vowed that the people of the state would resist the establishment of Ruga settlements with the last drop of their blood. They noted that the decision to establish Ruga settlements for the Fulani herdsmen of West Africa was to deprive the indigenes of their land.