Published On: Wed, Jun 26th, 2019

Ortom rejects FG’s proposed Ruga settlement for herdsmen

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Samuel Ortom

• As President promises lasting solution to herders, farmers clashes

From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi and Lawrence Olaoye Abuja

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has rejected the proposed establishment of Ruga settlement being embarked upon by the Federal government.
This is just as President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to find a lasting solution to the incessant clashes between the farmers and the herders in the country.
Ortom’s rejection was contained in a press statement signed by the governor’s press secretary, Terver Akase and made available to our reporter yesterday.
The Governor viewed the approach of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture as not only a gross violation of the ranching law but also as an insult on the sensibilities of the entire people of Benue State.
“It has become necessary to make the position of the government and people of Benue State abundantly clear on the Ruga settlements for herdsmen being implemented by the Federal Government across the states including Benue.
“A few weeks ago, the Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture with his team in Benue State informed officials of the State Ministry of Agriculture that he had received directives from the Ministry’s headquarters Abuja to establish Ruga which means Fulani settlement’ in parts of the state.
“The director stated that the local government areas selected for the Ruga settlements were Otukpo, Tarka and Ukum.
“The Permanent Secretary, Benue State Ministry of Agriculture drew the attention of the director and his team to the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 being implemented in the state. When they were also reminded about the Land Use Act which confers on the Governor the powers to administer lands in all parts of the State, officials of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture left with a promise to relay the message to their headquarters. They surprisingly returned a few days later with contractors to commence work on the Ruga settlements”, he said.
Governor Ortom maintained that the people and government of Benue State have rejected cattle colonies and will still reject the policy in whichever robes it is disguised.
He stressed that the State would embrace the policy only if it supports implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.
Governor Ortom also insisted that Benue State has no land for open grazing of cattle and restated that ranching remains the only lasting solution to the incessant herders and farmers crisis which the country ought to embrace.
“We wish to remind those pushing for Ruga settlements that the constitution of the country gives states the right to make laws for the governance of their people. Any attempt to subvert such right is a direct attack on the Constitution. Those behind such a move are enemies of peace and progress.
“The Government of Benue State is willing to support cattle owners to establish ranches as stipulated by the law prohibiting open grazing.
“We however wish to reiterate that Benue State has no land for grazing reserves, grazing routes, cattle colonies or ruga settlements. The State only has land for the establishment of ranches”, Governor Ortom stated
The president gave this commitment yesterday when he played host to a delegation of traditional rulers and leaders of thoughts from Nasarawa state led by the governor, Abdullai Sule, at the Presidential Villa.
The President, who commended the people of the state for staying by him in thick and thin since he joined partisan politics in 2003, particularly singled out the former governor of the state, Alhaji Tanko Almakura, for praises for identifying with his project from the word go.
He said “As a government, the responsibility on us is enormous. In the last four years we have focused on enhancing security, inclusive economic empowerment and fighting corruption. In all these areas we have made progress despite the significant challenges we faced.
“I am pleased to hear that there is a federal government’s project in Nasarawa state that is impacting on your citizens. I will like to congratulate the governor, deputy governor and all the newly elected officials from Nasarawa state on your victory in the polls including of course, Senator Almakura.
I must commend the steadfastness, commitment and the enormous hardwork of the former governor of Nasarawa state senator Tanko Almakura, who identified with our project from the word go. I wish him well in his new assignment.
“In the next four years I want to assure you that we will remain committed to the change agenda. Our goal of building an inclusive, secure and prosperous Nigeria is achievable. However, the federal government cannot do it alone. We need the full cooperation and support of states, local governments as well as traditional and religious leaders.”
The Nasarawa governor, in an interaction with newsmen after the meeting said his state has become the President’s laboratory in politics as the state was the only state won by his defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
While disclosing that he had resolved to name some government institutions in the state after the President, the governor thanked Buhari for appointing two sons if the state as the Inspector-General of police an Director General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

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