Nigerians have in the past weeks spoken passionately but with a real curiosity about the recently proposed, but now suspended Rural Grazing Areas RUGA, aka cattle settlements in Hausa language.
While the Federal Government and other Pro-RUGA advocates in the image of their understanding explained that the RUGA programme was conceived in good faith to among other things curtail the perennial farmers/herders clashes and control the spread of animal-related diseases, the opponents argue that it is a ploy to disproportionately allocate lands to the Fulanis who are predominantly in the business of cattle rearing.
The submission by the opponents, mostly made up of; well-meaning Nigerians and sociocultural organizations such as: the Ohaneze Ndigbo in South-East; the Pan Niger Delta Development Forum (PANDEF in South-South; the Afenifere in the South-west among others is predicated on the position that since rearing of cattle just like every other legitimate business in the country remains a private business, why then is the Federal Government expressing a special interest in the case of the herdsmen.
From the above position, what the the Federal Government must recognize is that the masses are not only ready to keep up with the pressure but have gained new awareness that no nation can long continue to flourish or find its way to modern society without doing the peoples will.
Whatever the true situation may be, the truth is that while the groundwork for the RUGA programme and failure of the Federal Government to carry all the stakeholders along remain condemnable, the good news is that with the suspension, significant progress has been made.
But the development says something more. As a nation, if we fail to absorb the right lesson from this occurrence, we are, as in the historian’s phrase, doomed to repeat the mistakes that have already been made.EXPLORING OTHER SECURITY OPTIONS FOR NIGERIA
Looking at commentaries, the suspension of RUGA is not enough, as the vast majority of Nigerians are against the implementation of the RUGA programme in the country particularly in the South West, South East, South-South and North Central. The recent call on all to protect their lands by the likes of Professor Wole Soyinka, the Oni of Ife and the governors from the South-South, South East and the North Central geopolitical zones of the country supports this assertion.
Notably, the inherent danger associated with this choice in our view is that by the time different people begin to seek ways of protecting their lands and their lives, it could lead to anarchy, which will not be good for the country. Already, if we look honestly at the reality of our national life, it is clear that we are not marching forward; we are groping and stumbling, we are divided and confused.
To, therefore, conquer our fears and walk boldly forward on the path that lies ahead of us as a nation, it is our position that the Federal Government cancels the RUGA programme as the list of options and actions not taken by Buhari’s administration remains lengthy and worrisome. Sincerely, more work needs to be done and more reforms need to be made. READ ALSO:
As an illustration, instead of continuing with this policy that is lacking in human face, the FG should rededicate its commitment to the enormous task of nation-building by ensuring the implementation of 2014 confab report to take care of similar occurrences in the future.
While this is ongoing, developing the political will to make the government accountable and transparent will be considered vital as it will boost the people’s confidence that the government will not harm or cheat on them using obnoxious policies and programmes.
Finally, while we continue to appreciate the media for objectively keeping the people informed, we are also concerned about the sophisticated effort to manipulate public opinion and to selectively control information relevant for decision making in this direction.